The Trump administration’s corrosive, norm-busting treatment of the press continued Wednesday as the latest twist in President Trump’s ongoing vendetta with CNN. After serving as the pool reporter—rotating designated reporters that represent all outlets at certain events—for an afternoon meeting between Trump and president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, the White House informed Collins that should would not be able to attend an open press availability between the two leaders later that day.
Here’s how CNN tells what happened during the press availability in question:
As is customary, Collins lobbed a few questions at the president. She asked about Vladimir Putin and Michael Cohen. Trump did not answer the questions. Later in the afternoon, the White House surprised the press corps by announcing a press availability with Trump and Juncker in the Rose Garden. It was said to be open to all press, not just the small pool.
A few minutes later, Collins was asked to come to Bill Shine’s office. Shine, a former co-president of Fox News, is the new deputy chief of staff for communications. Shine and press secretary Sarah Sanders met Collins there. “They said ‘You are dis-invited from the press availability in the Rose Garden today,’” Collins said in an interview. “They said that the questions I asked were inappropriate for that venue. And they said I was shouting.” … Collins said Shine and Sanders asserted 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.”
The video clearly shows Collins asking a series of pointed questions at the tail end of the event. You could say she’s shouting them. Other reporters are doing the same. The practice is pretty customary and Trump often responds to the invasive, performative questioning during these transitional moments. He also often makes news in doing so. That might be the real problem here, that the White House communications shop is trying to rein in Trump’s unscripted truth bombs at the end of events, where he recently got into trouble again for appearing to say, in a similar style back-and-forth, that he believed Russia was no longer targeting the U.S., forcing the White House to quickly walk that back.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders later confirmed Collins was barred from the later event because, Sanders says, the reporter “shouted questions and refused to leave despite repeatedly being asked to do so.” “To be clear, we support a free press and ask that everyone be respectful of the presidency and guests at the White House,” Sanders said.
The move, however, irked others in the White House press corps and CNN competitor Fox News registered its protest with the White House barring CNN.