Journalists call out CNN for limiting in-person press access to the debate: ‘Deeply concerned’

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Journalists call out CNN for limiting in-person press access to the debate: ‘Deeply concerned’

The White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) called out CNN on Thursday for limiting in-person press pool access to the CNN Presidential Debate in Atlanta. 

“WHCA is deeply concerned that CNN has rejected our repeated requests to include the White House travel pool inside the studio. Through conversations and advocacy, we urged CNN to grant access to at least one print pool reporter for the duration of the debate,” WHCA president Kelly O’Donnell wrote in a statement on Thursday. 

Former President Trump and President Biden will face off Thursday at 9PM in the first debate, which will be simulcast on the Fox News Channel, between the two candidates in the 2024 cycle.

“Tonight’s debate will have no audience present and includes format rules that can silence candidates’ microphones. We don’t know how this will play out in real time. A pool reporter is there to observe what is said and done when microphones are off or when either candidate is not seen on camera but may speak, gesture, move, or engage in some way,” the WHCA president’s statement continued.

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Signage for a CNN presidential debate is seen outside their studios at the Turner Entertainment Networks on June 27, 2024, in Atlanta, Georgia. President Joe Biden and Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. President Donald Trump will face off in the first presidential debate of the 2024 presidential cycle this evening. ( (Photo by Andrew Harnik/Getty Images))

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O’Donnell wrote that allowing only one print reporter in the debate room during commercial breaks was not enough. 

“That is not sufficient in our view and diminishes a core principle of presidential coverage. The White House pool has a duty to document, report and witness the president’s events and his movements on behalf of the American people,” the WHCA president’s statement continued.

O’Donnell asked that CNN “adjust its plan” and allow a reporter to witness the event in person. 

“WHCA respectfully requests that CNN adjust its plan and welcome the White House travel pool print representative to witness the debate in full for the sake of the news cycle, for history and mostly importantly for the American people,” she wrote. 

A group of journalists at The New York Times, Bloomberg News, The Washington Post and The Associated Press also wrote a letter to CNN to urge them to allow a White House pool reporter to watch the highly anticipated debate in person, the New York Times reported.

The reporters noted in the letter that pool reporters had in-person access to previous debates. 

“During the commission era, a pool was inside the venue and able to document the scene, including news that happened that was not on camera. As you know, there is more to the debate than what will be seen on television,” the letter stated.

Biden, Trump

President Biden and former President Donald Trump. (Getty Images)

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CNN responded in a statement to Fox News Digital.

“As proud members of the White House Correspondents Association, we respect the role the organization plays and their support for press freedom and access. CNN’s Presidential Debate is being held without an audience in a CNN studio and is closed to press. The feed was made available to Washington Pool Members, Washington Pool subscribers and CNN Affiliates, and is also available to embed via CNN’s YouTube channel without charge for digital outlets and is available on CNN.com,” a CNN spokesperson said.

“Following our traditional approach, CNN is providing access to the debate studio for a tight pool of photographers for the duration of the event and a larger group of photographers during a commercial break. In addition, CNN is providing access to the debate hall for the designated print pool reporter during the first commercial break to allow them to provide a pool report from inside the debate studio.”

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