Trump’s team considers moving White House press room

Donald Trump's chief of staff Reince Priebus, left, and incoming press secretary Sean Spicer walk to their bus after a the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington on Jan. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Updated 17 January 2017
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Trump’s team considers moving White House press room

WASHINGTON: President-elect Donald Trump’s team could move the White House press briefing room from the West Wing to another location that accommodates more media from around the country and the world, senior officials in the incoming administration said on Sunday.
Esquire magazine reported on Saturday that the Trump administration planned to relocate White House reporters from the press room to the White House Conference Center or the Old Executive Office Building next door.
Speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said on Sunday that Trump’s team discussed moving news conferences out of the small West Wing briefing room to the Old Executive Office Building, which is part of the White House complex.
Such a move would mark a potential change in access for reporters, as the current briefing room is only steps from the Oval Office.
Vice President-elect Mike Pence and Priebus both said no decision had been made.
Trump has had a contentious relationship with some prominent US news organization that he refers to derisively as the “mainstream media,” banning some news outlets during the presidential campaign and publicly criticizing individual reporters.
On CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Pence did not respond directly when asked whether potentially moving reporters was a logistical move or a punitive one.
“The interest of the team is to make sure that we accommodate the broadest number of people who are interested and media from around the country and around the world,” Pence said.
Tensions with Trump escalated last week after some news organizations reported unsubstantiated allegations that suggested the president-elect could be blackmailed by Russia. At a raucous news conference last week in New York, Trump pointedly refused to take a question from a CNN reporter and called the news outlet “fake news.”
The White House Correspondents’ Association objected in a statement to “any move that would shield the president and his advisers from the scrutiny of an on-site White House press corps,” and said it would fight to keep the briefing room and access to senior administration officials open.
‘Critical to transparency’
Jeff Mason, a Reuters White House correspondent who is president of the association, said in a statement on Sunday he met for nearly two hours with incoming White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. Mason said he made it clear the association “would view it as unacceptable if the incoming administration sought to move White House reporters out of the press work space behind the press briefing room” as Trump’s team considers a larger briefing room.
“Access in the West Wing to senior administration officials, including the press secretary, is critical to transparency and to journalists’ ability to do their jobs,” Mason said.
Mason said Spicer “expressed concern that journalists adhere to a high level of decorum at press briefings and press conferences. I made clear that the WHCA would object, always, to a reporter being thrown out of a briefing or press conference.”
Priebus said: “I know that some of the folks in the press are uptight about this, and I understand.” He said the only thing that had been discussed was whether or not the initial press conferences would be held in the existing press room that he said was “very, very tiny.”
The current press room has about 49 seats.
“So no one is moving out of the White House,” Priebus said.
The White House Conference Center had been used as a temporary press room during the George W. Bush administration
The briefing room was built in 1970 by President Richard Nixon over an old swimming pool installed by President Franklin Roosevelt that was used regularly by President John F. Kennedy but underutilized by later administrations. But the presence of reporters at the White House dates back even farther.
In addition to theater-style seats where the White House press secretary conducts daily briefings, the press area of the White House includes workspace for television, radio, print and online news organizations that cover the administration on a daily basis.


Qatari media incites boycott of Bahrain’s Palestinian workshop, but ignores leaks about own regime attendance

Updated 26 May 2019
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Qatari media incites boycott of Bahrain’s Palestinian workshop, but ignores leaks about own regime attendance

  • Experts predict that comments come as a result of Iranian and Qatari media propagating a negative view of the workshop, which is being falsely portrayed as an effort to force Palestinians to sell-away their right to a state
  • Dubbed “Peace for Prosperity,” the conference is expected to bring together leaders from several governments, civil society and the business sector

DUBAI: Qatari media has been upping the ante with articles and opinion pieces shedding negative light on the US-lead “Peace to Prosperity” economic workshop in Bahrain, which led to Palestinian officials to have a negative view of the summit and urge other Arab states of boycotting it.

“We call on the countries that have agreed to attend the Bahrain workshop to reevaluate their decision,” the secretary of the PLO’s executive committee, Saeb Erekat, told Arab News in an interview yesterday. 

Experts predict that comments come as a result of Iranian and Qatari media propagating a negative view of the workshop, which is being falsely portrayed as an effort to force Palestinians to sell-away their right to a state. 

“‘A two-day international Peace to Prosperity economic workshop in Bahrain undermines #Palestinians and their calls for sovereignty’” read a tweet from Qatar-owned English version of The New Arab, a newspaper based in London. 

Another tweet by the same news website read: “In-depth: ‘Palestinian political and religious leaders have slammed Jared Kushner’s so-called Deal of the Century Israel-Palestine peace plan, due to be revealed in part in a controversial Bahrain summit‘”

While a Twitter poll from senior Al Jazeera New channel anchor Jamal Rayyan asked “Do you support Saudi Arabia, UAE and Israel’s organization of an economic conference in Bahrain to finance the deal of the century and the liquidation of the Palestinian cause?”

The results showed 71 percent against while 29 percent for.

Also, articles from Middle East Eye and Middle East Monitor – both Qatari-backed and pro-Hamas and pro-Muslim Brotherhood – have exaggerated the ‘failings’ of the workshop in Manama.

But while Qatari media has aggressively pushed against the Bahain summit, Israel-based Haaretz has published an article claiming that Qatar plans to attend and participate in the conference, which takes place on June 25 and 26.

No reports of Qatar confirming or denying the Haaretz article were found by Arab News.

Dubbed “Peace for Prosperity,” the conference is expected to bring together leaders from several governments, civil society and the business sector.

Trump’s office said the conference was a “pivotal opportunity... to share ideas, discuss strategies, and galvanize support for potential economic investments and initiatives that could be made possible by a peace agreement.”

The Palestinians see this as offering financial rewards in exchange for accepting ongoing Israeli occupation.

“Attempts at promoting an economic normalization of the Israeli occupation of Palestine will be rejected,” Erekat said.

(With AFP)