UPDATE: CNN Responds to WHCA Letter Blasting Network for Barring Pool From Debate

AP Photo/Ron Harris

The minutes are ticking down to Thursday evening's presidential debate between former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden, after weeks of anticipation on how it will all play out under the bright lights on CNN between the parties' presumed nominees. 

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Of course, this is not like other recent presidential debates in a couple of ways, the most obvious one being it's taking place well before the Republican and Democrat conventions. There's also the hitch here that the event is not being put on by the official committee that usually sanctions the debates. As RedState previously wrote, the campaigns and the cable network worked things out themselves. Here is just some of our coverage leading up to tonight's debate (so far):


Biden Will Represent Himself and the Democrats During the Debate, Trump Should Represent Us

Biden Finally Emerges, As CNN Again Shows Its Bias in Question to Top Campaign Advisor

What Biden Is Practicing for the Debate May Just Be the Funniest (and Saddest) Report Yet


But now, there's reporting that something is very different about how this debate is being produced, with the White House Correspondents Association sounding the alarm in a new statement blasting CNN for refusing to allow pool reporters access to the studio where the debate is being held and calling it a bad "precedent" for the historical record:

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If you can't read the post, it reads:

"For weeks, WHCA has advocated for the inclusion of our White House travel pool inside the studio for the presidential debate. Our work has included outreach to the White House, the campaigns of both President Biden and former President Trump and the debate host network CNN.

"We appreciate that CNN is providing a television feed of the debate to other networks and will grant access to still photographers from various news outlets to cover the candidates inside the studio. Those are positive actions that WHCA fully supports.

"However, WHCA is deeply concerned that CNN has rejected our repeated requests to include the White House travel pool inside the studio. Through conversations and advocacy, we urged CNN to grant access to at least one print pool reporter for the duration of the debate.

"WHCA has been informed that one print reporter will be permitted to enter the studio during a commercial break to briefly observe the setting. That is not sufficient in our view and diminishes a core principle of presidential coverage. The White House pool has a duty to document, report and witness the president’s events and his movements on behalf of the American people.

"The pool is there for the “what ifs?” in a world where the unexpected does happen. A pool reporter is present to provide context and insight by direct observation and not through the lens of the television production. A pool reporter is an independent observer whose duties are separate from the production of the debate as a news event. The pool reporter works on behalf of the entire White House press corps. Print pool reports are an important part of the historical record.

"Further, the pool is screened by the US Secret Service and travels with the president on Air Force One so there is no security issue. The Biden campaign told WHCA it supports our request. The Trump campaign told WHCA it would not oppose the inclusion of the White House pool reporter. The Trump campaign has a separate press corps.

"Tonight’s debate will have no audience present and includes format rules that can silence candidates’ microphones. We don’t know how this will play out in real time. A pool reporter is there to observe what is said and done when microphones are off or when either candidate is not seen on camera but may speak, gesture, move, or engage in some way. WHCA believes this principle of coverage matters. The White House travel pool has been included in past presidential debates and we believe that standard of access is essential. Precedent matters for future debates."

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As this is a developing story, RedState will provide updates as they become available. We'll definitely have more information on the debate as it unfolds.

UPDATED [8:29 p.m. EST, 6/27/24]: The Hill reports:

In a new statement to the Hill, CNN "rejected the WHCA’s request and said the network “respect[s] the role the organization plays and their support for press freedom and access.”

“CNN’s Presidential Debate is being held without an audience in a CNN studio and is closed to press,” the network said. “The feed was made available to Washington Pool Members, Washington Pool subscribers and CNN Affiliates, and is also available to embed via CNN’s YouTube channel without charge for digital outlets and is available on CNN.com.”

CNN also noted it is “providing access to the debate studio for a tight pool of photographers for the duration of the event and a larger group of photographers during a commercial break.”


Related:

CNN Cuts Off Independent Media From the Presidential Debate and Demos How the Mic Muting System Works

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