WHCA cites Omicron to take step backwards, limit 99% vaxxed reporters in White House briefing room

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The White House Correspondents’ Association, in an emergency board meeting, voted to “temporarily” reduce the number of reporters in the briefing room.

The step backward came in response to the surge in COVID-19 and the Omicron variant cases across the country, and in the nation’s capital in particular.

“Given the virulence of the spread, medical experts have once again advised that it would be prudent to substantially reduce the number of people working in the cramped, poorly ventilated workspace that we share,” WHCA President Steve Portnoy told members in an email.

The organization’s board voted unanimously to go back to the decreased seating that had been in place throughout the pandemic, allowing only 14 seats out of the 49 in the room to be used.

“A primary objective is ensuring we are able to hold the administration accountable to the public, while preventing an outbreak that might limit our ability to cover the president in close quarters,” Portnoy said in the message.

Requests for virtual briefings amid hysteria over the Omicron variant were reportedly not entertained by the Biden administration, according to The Washington Post.

“With a new and devastating form of coronavirus lost, White House reporters are urging journalist Jen Psaki to move their daily conversations online – but Psaki’s idea has been positive so far,” the outlet reported last week.

“The White House Correspondents’ Association has arranged for day-to-day interviews at Zoom or another online platform to avoid face-to-face contact in a smaller White House room,” The Post added. “The WHCA worries that journalists are at high risk of contracting the omicron virus – or transmitting it to others – when they gather in a 49-room orientation room or small space behind them.”

The WHCA announcement on Sunday’s vote to reduce capacity in the briefing room was met with derision on social media.

More telling, to many on Twitter, was what the WHCA decision and the new chart signified.

The Spectator’s Amber Athey explained in several tweets, noting that the “White House press corps is 99% vaccinated.”

Others on Twitter also called out what wasn’t being said out loud.

Frieda Powers


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