White House Correspondents Work on Relationship With Trump Officials

The relationship between the president-elect and the press is famously strained. In an effort to get on better footing before the Trump administration takes over, the White House Correspondents' Association and Trump's team met this week to consider how they can work together.

Contentious relationships between the president and the media seem to come with the territory in Washington, DC, but as Donald Trump prepares to take office, the association that represents White House reporters is working to get off on the right foot with the new administration.

This week, leaders of the White House Correspondents’ Association met with Trump’s communications team in an effort to ensure that traditional aspects of the relationship between correspondents and the Oval Office would remain in place under the new president.

Media organizations have raised concerns about the access that journalists will have in the Trump White House, especially as Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Communications Director Sean Spicer have hinted at changes in the way the president-elect will work with the press.

Among the changes discussed are whether daily press conferences will be televised and what the seating chart at these conferences might be. Seating traditionally has been managed by WHCA, according to The Huffington Post. Spicer has suggested that this approach means that some media outlets lose out.

“What about some of the conservative media having some of the prized seats in there?” he said last month, according to the website. “What about having some of the top bloggers being able to come in?”

Additionally, journalists have complained that they have not had access to Trump’s private jet and expressed concern that the same will be true of Air Force One when he is president.

A Trump Tower Detente

That’s a lot of distance, but the two sides are working together to find some common ground. The meeting this week at Trump Tower helped clear the air on some of these issues.

“They made some reassurances to us that we are pleased about,” WHCA President Jeff Mason, who covers the White House for Reuters, told the Washington Examiner. “One is that they will respect the formation and the use of the protective pool in its current form going forward. That includes covering the president both at the White House, when he leaves the White House, and when he flies on Air Force One.”

In comments to Politico, Mason said the two-hour meeting was an opportunity to bring Trump officials up to speed on how the press corps has traditionally worked.

“They had a lot of questions. I think they were trying to inform themselves on how the press corps operates in the White House and they’re thinking through how they [want] to handle a wide variety of things,” he said. “It was a good exchange of views.”

Incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, who met with the correspondents' association this week. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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