(RepublicanWire.org) – Upset reporters erupted in protest and are speaking out after White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki pulled the plug early on a daily briefing before others had a chance to ask questions.
The press briefing lasted 40 minutes and the time was used up by only three reporters in the first two rows asking multiple questions and follow-ups.
Associated Press reporter Josh Boak signaled to Psaki that time was up. “Thanks, Jen,” Boak shouted out as a reporter asked Psaki a question about whether the US intended to get oil from Venezuela.
White House reporter Steven Nelson and Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times confronted Boak over the situation.
“You know, you don’t have to call the briefing over,” Nelson protested. “We have questions back here,” Nelson said from the fourth row.
“Let her call the briefing if it’s 40 minutes in,” he added.
“There are five rows back here and none of us got to ask a question,” said Al Jazeera’s Kimberly Halkett.
“Why did you call it?” asked Sweet. “Why did you do it?”
“Can we have an explanation?” Nelson followed up.
“Look, if you want to yell at me, I’m in the [AP] booth. You can do that there,” Boak answered.
Here’s what happened next via NY Post:
At that point, Steve Portnoy of CBS News Radio, president of the White House Correspondents Association, stepped up to try to calm things down.
As Portnoy explained, it’s traditional for the senior wire reporter at the briefing to “end it when we feel we’ve had enough.”
“Clearly, we have felt that we have not had enough,” he went on. “So there might be appropriate — an opportunity for we as a press corps to collectively decide when we’ve had enough, and to send that signal on our behalf to the AP man or woman so that he or she can signal to the secretary that we have had enough,” he said.
“I think it’s appropriate for us collectively as a unit, as a press corps, to reach that accommodation,” Portnoy said.
Although President Biden had no public events on his schedule, some reporters wanted the briefing to end in time for them to watch an afternoon event with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.
Boak said he had “discussions” with people, whom he didn’t identify, who told him they “needed an out at 3:30 and I obliged them.” That led to more outrage, with journalists noting that Boak had indulged himself by asking Psaki three questions.
“If you knew you had an out, then why don’t you guys limit yourself to one topic?” Halkett of Al Jazeera said from her seat in the sixth row.
“You don’t think we all have assignments? We don’t have editors? We don’t have deadlines?” she asked.
From the fifth row, Sweet chimed in: “Right, if you agree on the out, why don’t you organize yourself on how you conduct yourself during the briefing?”
Sweet added that Psaki or her deputy Karine Jean-Pierre is capable of ending the briefing on their own and that the tradition of the AP calling the briefing should end.
“I understand all the traditions that we have,” said Sweet, who has been covering the White House since the early 1990s. “Maybe it’s time to end the tradition. And Jen and her colleagues are fully capable of saying, ‘I’ve got to go now.’ And let’s just end it. No one deserves to have to feel that responsibility.”