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Association of White House Reporters Decries Trump's Effort to Skirt Media


A heavily-armed New York City police officer stands guard outside the Fifth Avenue., public entrance to Trump Tower, Nov. 15, 2016, in New York.

The White House Correspondents' Association says it was "unacceptable" for President-elect Donald Trump to travel without a pool of journalists after he left his New York residence Tuesday night to have dinner at a restaurant.

Trump’s transition team had told members of the media that he would not be in public for the rest of the day. It declared a "lid" on the incoming president’s day, so reporters were not expecting an event.

Trump traveled a short distance from his high rise home to Manhattan’s 21 Club to dine with his family.

The WHCA said in a statement that, "One week after the election, it is unacceptable for the next president of the United States to travel without a regular pool to record his movements and inform the public about his whereabouts."

CNN reported that a Bloomberg staffer, who was also dining at the restaurant, tweeted a picture and that is how journalists found out.

In an open letter to Trump, a group of journalism associations urged the new leader to “ensure longstanding traditions,” adding, “This isn't about access for the press itself; it's about access for Americans in diverse communities across the country. Your constituents receive information from a variety of platforms to learn about what our president is doing.”

Organizations such as National Press Club, Society of Professional Journalists, National Association of LGBTQ Journalists, Native American Journalists Association, National Association of Black Journalists, among others “respectfully” called on Trump to “commit to a protective press pool from now until the final day" of his presidency.

“We also call for access to you via regular press conferences and pool sprays and to your key decision-makers. You have an opportunity as incoming president to set the tone for your staff speaking on the record for the sake of transparency. We also hope your administration will improve response rates to FOIA requests as a way to show the American people, and the world, that the republic belongs to the people,” the letter said.

Trump’s spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, reassured reporters that the transition team will respect the tradition of press access at the White House.

Hope Hicks, press secretary for President-elect Donald Trump's campaign, arrives at Trump Tower, Nov. 14, 2016, in New York.
Hope Hicks, press secretary for President-elect Donald Trump's campaign, arrives at Trump Tower, Nov. 14, 2016, in New York.

Presidential whereabouts

It is customary for a protective pool of journalists to join a president or president-elect's motorcade to document their whereabouts and events and cover stories in case of breaking news.

The Associated Press reported that before dinner in Manhattan, Trump left the press behind and met with Vice President-elect and transition team head Mike Pence without any official announcement.

Critical component

WHCA President Jeff Mason said in a statement that he "is pleased to hear reassurances by the Trump transition team that it will respect long-held traditions of press access" but added "the time to act on that promise is now. Pool reporters are in place in New York to cover the president-elect as he assembles his new administration. It is critical that they be allowed to do their jobs."