Blogs > HNN > Can the White House Revoke a Reporter’s Credentials?

Jun 8, 2010 2:49 pm


Can the White House Revoke a Reporter’s Credentials?



Not really.

Today, after 50 years of covering the White House, Hearst newspapers columnist Helen Thomas announced her retirement after the widespread outrage that followed the release of a video in which she says that Jews in Israel should "go back to Germany and Poland." White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called Thomas's remarks "offensive and reprehensible." But if the 89-year-old Thomas had insisted on remaining, could the White House have forced her out of the press corps?
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Probably not. To get accredited for the White House, a reporter first needs to be approved for a congressional press pass by the Standing Committee of Correspondents, elected by accredited reporters. (A notable exception to this rule was Jeff Gannon of the conservative website Talon News, who was repeatedly allowed to ask -- usually friendly -- questions during the George W. Bush administration's White House press briefings despite never being given a congressional pass. Gannon's presence in the press room became a minor scandal when liberal bloggers revealed that he had posted X-rated pictures of himself on the Internet and had worked as a gay escort.)

Among other requirements, congressional reporters must demonstrate that they work for a publication whose "principal business is the daily dissemination of original news and opinion of interest to a broad segment of the public" and is "editorially independent of any institution, foundation or interest group that lobbies the federal government." The White House also requires an additional Secret Service background check. The White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA), a professional association of journalists who cover the president, is not involved in the credentialing process, and White House reporters are not required to be WHCA members.

Once you've got the pass, you can renew it every year without additional scrutiny. More than 2,000 reporters have "hard passes" to the White House, though the vast majority don't work out of the building every day and the briefing room seats just 50 people, with standing room for about another 30....



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