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Reporters were caught in a tense debate after the conclusion of Monday’s White House press briefing.
After less than forty-five minutes of questioning, Associated Press correspondent Josh Boak appeared to call an end to the briefing for White House press secretary Jen Psaki. Reporters in the back, however, criticized the decision for ignoring questions and prioritizing more establishment media outlets.
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Tradition indicates that a senior wire reporter such as Boak would usually call an end to the press briefing as opposed to the press secretary. Many noted, however, that this was not put into practice during the Trump administration. In addition, other correspondents remarked that ending the press briefing would usually come on behalf of the press after most questions were asked.
Instead, some reporters claim that Boak has been ending briefings on behalf of the White House and in exclusion to outlets outside the mainstream media.
RealClearNews White House reporter Philip Wegman tweeted, “An open question: What is the utility of empowering a wire service to call an end to a White House briefing? Is it for the benefit of the @PressSec? Or for a few reporters in the front row? Or the entire press corps?”
New York Post reporter Steven Nelson documented the discussion writing, “The White House press corps just had a grueling debate among members after Jen Psaki’s briefing. A wire reporter in front row called briefing over after about 40 minutes. I told him we had more questions in the back and others agreed.”
Other reporters also voiced their disapproval at the practice.
Full audio from the post-press briefing provided by Newsbusters featured reporters attacking Boak and White House Correspondents Association president Steven Portnoy for adhering to what they saw as an outdated practice.
“Look, here’s — here’s what I can tell you is standard. Most briefings are 45 minutes. I think everyone should get a question. As the AP reporter, I will do whatever I can if you have a question to make sure it gets asked,” Boak was heard saying. “If I — if it doesn’t happen today, I’ll do it later. I volunteer. I make that commitment. This briefing today was 43 minutes, a little bit over that. If it was up to me, could have gone on all day.”
“Wasn’t it up to you?” Nelson responded.
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During the press briefing, Psaki was repeatedly asked about President Biden’s plan regarding the increasingly rising gas prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Although many sanctions have been put in play, the White House has refused to commit to banning oil imports from Russia. Rather than increasing domestic oil drilling, Biden has reportedly been considering negotiations with Venezuela and Saudi Arabia to import more energy supply.
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