Vice President Mike Pence has blocked Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, as well as other top U.S. health officials, from appearing on CNN following the network’s decision to not air the White House coronavirus press briefings in full.
“When you guys cover the briefings with the health officials then you can expect them back on your air,” a spokesman for the vice president told CNN.
Trump and the White House Coronavirus Task Force, led by Pence, have been giving daily briefings to the press for several weeks after rising numbers of Americans have been infected. A CNN executive said that the network has sometimes cut away from the briefings after Trump speaks, and turns to a panel to fact-check the president. However, the network usually broadcasts only the president’s question-and-answer session.
Fauci and Birx regularly appear at the briefings to give updates on the status of the coronavirus epidemic within the U.S. Fauci has also appeared on CNN virtual townhalls on the coronavirus for the past five weeks, but will not be present this Thursday.
The New York Times, another outlet that has been a target of the Trump administration’s ire, stopped airing the briefings on its website entirely.
“We stopped doing that because they were like campaign rallies,” Elisabeth Bumiller, the paper’s Washington bureau chief, told the Washington Post. “The health experts often have interesting information, so we’re very interested in that, but the president himself often does not.”