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White House Press Corps Handed Editorial Control to Biden Team

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki delivers remarks during a press briefing inside the White House in Washington, D.C., February 3, 2021. (Tom Brenner/Reuters)

The Biden White House has been exercising editorial control over the press corps tasked with covering it, Politico reported Monday evening.

By insisting upon a “background with quote approval” as a condition of speaking with members of the press, the Biden administration has been able to revise and even throw out quotes that White House staff have given to reporters — ensuring a less accurate, but rosier picture for the public.

“If you’ve read a quote from an administration official in a newspaper or a wire story recently, there’s a good chance that the White House communications team had an opportunity to edit it first” explain Thompson and Meyer, who admit to having agreed to such terms themselves during an interview with White House communications director Kate Bedingfield.

While White House reporters are “increasingly frustrated” by the “abuse” of this practice, they are also loath to refuse requests for quote approval lest other reporters gain a competitive advantage over them.

Peter Baker, chief White House correspondent for the New York Times called it “a pernicious, insidious, awful practice that reporters should resist,” going so far as to say that the practice allows powerful figures to “control what is in” stories about them.

Press Secretary Jen Psaki responded to a request for comment by attacking the press and dodging the issue at hand, saying that the White House would “welcome any outlet banning the use of anonymous background quotes that attack people personally or speak to internal processes from people who don’t even work in the Administration.”

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