Kaitlan Collins, a CNN White House Correspondent based in Washington, D.C., was denied access to cover an open press event today in the White House Rose Garden Wednesday evening, according to a statement released by CNN on Twitter.
According to the statement, Collins posed several questions to President Trump earlier in the day and was subsequently banned from the event because her questions were “inappropriate,” according to press secretary Sarah Sanders and Bill Shine, the White House deputy chief of staff.
“Just because the White House is uncomfortable with a question regarding the news of the day doesn’t mean the question isn’t relevant and shouldn’t be asked,” CNN said in a statement. “This decision to bar a member of the press is retaliatory in nature and not indicative of an open and free press. We demand better.”
Here’s what you need to know about Collins and the events that transpired Wednesday afternoon:
1. Collins Was Dis-invited From The Rose Garden Event Due to “Inappropriate Questions” & Because Collins Was Allegedly Shouting While Asking Trump Questions
Collins was representing all the television networks as the “pool reporter” in the room during the early afternoon meeting between Trump and Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, according to CNN.
CNN reports that Collins asked the president a few questions regarding Russian leader Vladimir Putin and Michael Cohen, to which the the president ignored, which isn’t uncommon.
Later in the afternoon, the White House announced a press availability with President Trump and Juncker in the Rose Garden, which was said to be open to all press, not just the small pool of reporters present at the earlier meeting. However, Collins was pulled aside and asked to meet with Shine and Sanders in Shine’s officer.
“They said ‘You are dis-invited from the press availability in the Rose Garden today,'” Collins said. “They said that the questions I asked were inappropriate for that venue. And they said I was shouting.”
A video clip of the exchange allegedly shows that Collins was speaking the same way as all journalists in the press pool usually speak. Collins told CNN she replied: “You’re banning me from an event because you didn’t like the questions I asked.”
Collins said Shine and Sanders claimed that “we’re not banning your network. Your photographers can still come. Your producers can still come. But you are not invited to the Rose Garden today.”
2. She Asked Questions Involving Michael Cohen’s “Betrayal” & Why Putin Hadn’t Accepted Trump’s Invitation to Meet Again in the Fall
Reporters from major news networks generally take turns as the TV “pool reporter,” according to CNN. Wednesday was CNN’s turn, and since there aren’t often many opportunities to ask the president questions, Collins chose to ask him two questions regarding the biggest stories of the day.
She asked: “Did Michael Cohen betray you, Mr. President?” She repeated the question, then asked “Mr. President, are you worried about what Michael Cohen is about to say to the prosecutors? Are you worried about what is on the other tapes, Mr. President?”
This was a follow-up to Trump’s Wednesday morning tweet about the Cohen tape that CNN aired on Tuesday night.
When Trump didn’t answer she asked, “Why is Vladimir Putin not accepting your invitation, Mr. President?”
Trump “rebuffed” the question, according to CNN, and ended the session by saying, “thank you very much, everybody” to the press pool.
3. The White House Correspondents Association Slammed the Decision in a Statement on Twitter, Calling the Retaliation “Inappropriate, Wrong-Headed & Weak”
The White House Correspondents Association released a statement after news broke that Collins was dis-invited to the Rose Garden event.
“We strongly condemn the White House’s misguided and inappropriate decision today to bar one of our members from an open press event after she asked questions they did not like,” the statement read.
The response to Collins being barred from the event has been a mixture of anger, shock and outrage, with many across social media claiming that the act is one of Trump’s biggest attacks against the press yet.
“This type of retaliation is wholly inappropriate, wrong-headed, and weak. It cannot stand. Reporters asking questions of powerful government officials, up to and including the President, helps hold those people accountable. In our republic, the WHCA supports the prerogative of all reporters to do their jobs without feat of reprisal from the government.”
4. Twitter Rallied Behind Collins, With Many Calling the Decision an Attack Against Freedom of Press
Twitter is flooded with support for Collins, from all political sides. Even conservative news outlets are standing with Collins and CNN against the decision to ban Collins from the event. Bret Baier of Fox News tweeted that the station “stands firmly with [CNN] on this issue and the issue of access.”
Brian Karem wrote: “Just got word the WH barred [Collins] from the WH for asking questions today they did not like. This is oppression, this is anti-American. This cannot stand. Kaitlan is a great reporter. The WH shows its true colors. NO MORE!”
“White House blocks [Collins] from open press event because they didn’t like her questions earlier,” user David Rothkopf wrote. “This is another step toward authoritarianism and a blow against basic press freedom. Where is the WHCA? Where is the solidarity?”
Many users claimed barring Collins from the event was an attack on the First Amendment and Freedom of Press.
Renato Mariotti wrote: “We need more reporters asking tough questions like [Collins] did today. Trump’s retaliation against her runs counter to our nation’s commitment to a free press.”
5. A Journalism & Political Science Major, Collins Graduated from the University of Alabama & Used to Write for the Daily Caller
Collins graduated from Prattville High School in Prattville, Alabama and attended the University of Alabama, where she originally studied chemistry and later transitioned to journalism and political science.
Once Collins graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and political science in May 2014, she began working as a freelance writer and blogger, according to Wikipedia. According to her bio on CNN, Collins has broken several large stories since joining CNN in 2017.
“Since joining the network in 2017, Collins has broken several stories in her coverage of the Trump White House, traveled with President Trump in Asia and reported extensively on the Senate special election in her home state of Alabama,” her bio reads. “Collins joined CNN from The Daily Caller, where she served as the White House Correspondent covering the Trump administration and the 2016 election.”
It was announced that Collins had joined CNN as a White House Correspondent on June 15, 2017 by CNN president Jeff Zucker.
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