During a victory lap press briefing at the White House on Friday, President Donald Trump praised reporters for sitting in a close arrangement that was ordered by his own press office — a move that defied social distancing guidelines despite ongoing warnings from the CDC about the need to comply to keep the coronavirus at bay.
Trump made the offhanded remark in the context of a wider announcement about the continued reopening of states still recovering from the pandemic. Looking out at the chairs placed far closer together than the recommended six feet that’s become common wisdom in public health circles, Trump applauded reporters for sitting in such close proximity to each other — an image that “looks much better,” he said. “You’re not all the way there yet, but you’ll be there soon.”
Journalists on the scene described the move as self-serving and are calling out the White House for using reporters as political props.
This is a flagrant violation of CDC guidelines on social distancing and a move that puts reporters at risk for the purpose of turning the press corps into a prop for a so-called "press conference" where the president refuses to answer a single question. https://t.co/dgImSBblaO
— jonkarl (@jonkarl) June 5, 2020
Chief White House correspondent for ABC News Jon Karl, who is also the President of the White House Correspondents Association, issued a formal statement condemning the White House’s last minute chair rearrangement from what was an appropriate distance to a dangerous one that “needlessly put reporters’ health at risk.”
Read the full statement below.
Statement on White House seating pic.twitter.com/KpxbKJQBbr
— WHCA (@whca) June 5, 2020