White House Bans CNN Reporter for Tough Questions

CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins was barred from a White House Rose Garden event open to other members of the press Thursday after she peppered the President with questions about the public airing of former Trump attorney Michael Cohen's tape of his client. That questioning—the President ignored the question—came when she was the pool reporter for an Oval Office event, according to the network.

The event was a meeting between Trump and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker. 

According to CNN, Bill Shine, former co-president of Fox News and current deputy chief of staff for communications, uninvited Collins from the follow-on rose Garden event with the two leaders, saying her questions had been inappropriate and she was shouting.

CNN said the tape showed she was just asking questions as other White House reporters do.

Collins said she asked whether she was being uninvited to the open event because they didn't like her questions and Shine and press secretary Sarah Sanders replied that they were not banning the network, just her.

"Just because the White House is uncomfortable with a question regarding the news of the day doesn't mean the question isn't relevant and shouldn't be asked," CNN said in a statement. "This decision to bar a member of the press is retaliatory in nature and not indicative of an open and free press. We demand better."

While CNN commentators were pointing out on air that Shine was a former Fox exec and suggesting Fox would likely not have similar problems with access, Fox anchor Brett Baier tweeted his support for CNN.


And current Fox News President Jay Wallace seconded that support. "We stand in strong solidarity with CNN for the right to full access for our journalists as part of a free and unfettered press," he said in an e-mailed statement to B&C.

The White House Correspondents Association "strongly condemned" what WHCA president Olivier Knox called the President's "misguided and inappropriate decision." He also thanked Baier for his support. "This type of retaliation is wholly inappropriate, wrong-headed, and weak. It cannot stand," said Knox.

CNN is the highest-profile target of President Trump's campaign to brand the mainstream media as the enemies of the American people and allies with his opponents in marginalizing his Administration.

Reporters Without Borders added the incident to its U.S. Press Freedom Tracker site under its "Featured Incidents" section.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.