Pence: Press freedom is great, until reporters do something we don’t like
Mike Pence added insult to injury when he claimed that he and Trump’s administration are big believers in freedom of the press — and then immediately defended Trump’s decision to ban a CNN reporter from covering an event.
On this week’s edition of Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures,” even host and pro-Trump zealotMaria Bartiromo seemed disgusted with Pence over the administration’s decision to bar CNN’s Kaitlan Collins from a White House event last week just because she asked questions at the end of another event.
“Was it necessary to throw out Kaitlin Collins from CNN the other day?” Bartiromo asked Pence in an interview. “What happened?”
Pence began with the ridiculous claim that “this administration believes in the freedom of the press” — then stammered his way through a word salad that directly contradicted that claim.
“But maintaining the decorum that is due at the White House, I think, is an issue that we’ll continue to work for,” Pence said.
Bartiromo didn’t seem impressed with Pence’s caveat about “decorum.”
“On this day, [Collins] was the pool reporter, so she was actually representing all of us,” Bartiromo noted.
By kicking Collins out, Bartiromo probed, hadn’t the administration also “kicked out everybody” in the press?
“Well, I would leave that decision to the White House staff, and I just remain very confident,” Pence replied.
Collins was banned from covering an event in the Rose Garden on Wednesday after she had peppered Trump with questions at the end of an Oval Office photo op. Collins was informed that she would not be welcome at the later event by former Fox executive-turned-White House communications director Bill Shine.
His appeal to “decorum” is also completely at odds with the basic idea of press freedom. It’s part of a reporter’s job to ask questions that might make people in power uncomfortable.
What’s more, in the same breath that Pence claimed to be a lover of the free press, he also reserved the right for the White House to continue banning reporters by telling Bartiromo he would “leave that decision to the White House staff.”
In January, Trump was named a top media oppressor by the Committee to Protect Journalists. Reporters Without Borders also cited Trump for the United States’ drop in the group’s press freedom rankings.
Shine appears determined to help Trump worsen that record, and Pence appears every bit as determined to lie about it.
But Americans aren’t so easily fooled.