Vice President Mike Pence has walked back its decision to restrict top health experts from appearing on CNN in an effort to pressure the network into airing the daily White House coronavirus task force briefings in full.Pence’s office reversed course Thursday afternoon after CNN reported that morning that his office would only permit experts such as Dr. Deborah Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci to appear on the network on the condition that it airs the portion of the briefings featuring the vice president and other coronavirus task force members.
According to CNN, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield will participate in the network’s coronavirus town hall Thursday night and Fauci is scheduled for a Friday interview on “New Day.”
CNN typically only broadcasts the first part of the briefing when President Trump takes questions from reporters in real-time, which sometimes includes responses from health experts. The network often ends its live broadcast of the briefing to air its analysis of Trump’s latest remarks.
A CNN executive cited the extensive length of the briefings, which have run past two hours, as a reason for why the network often cuts out of it after Trump leaves the podium.
Within the last seven days, Pence’s office has declined to make public health experts available for interviews on CNN. The network also noted that Fauci, Birx, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn and Surgeon General Jerome Adams have appeared on news networks NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox in the past week.
“When you guys cover the briefings with the health officials then you can expect them back on your air,” a Pence spokesperson told CNN Thursday morning.
TPM reached out to Pence’s office and CNN for comment. We will update this post if we hear back.