Where is President-elect Donald Trump? That was the question for much of Thursday during Trump’s first visit to Washington, D.C., as president-elect.
Trump and his aides refused to allow reporters to travel with him to D.C. Thursday, breaking decades of traditional press protocol and setting a frightening precedent for coverage of his administration.
“We are not being provided any information or access by the Trump transition — they are not even responding to emails from me — so I will forward information that the White House is providing that is of interest,” a reporter from Politico, functioning as Trump’s “protective print pool,” wrote Thursday morning.
The White House Correspondents’ Association criticized the move, saying such a decision could “leave Americans blind” in the event of a national crisis.
“This White House Correspondents’ Association is deeply concerned by President-elect Donald Trump’s decision to reject the practice of traveling with a ‘protective pool’ of reporters for his first visit to Washington since the election. In addition to breaking with decades of historical precedent and First Amendment principles, this decision could leave Americans blind about his whereabouts and well-being in the event of a national crisis,” White House Correspondents’ Association President Jeff Mason said in a statement.
“A pool of reporters is in place and ready to cover President-elect Trump. The WHCA urges President-elect Trump to allow it to do its job, including being present for motorcade movements, meetings, and other interactions. Not allowing a pool of journalists to travel with and cover the next president of the United States is unacceptable.”
A spokeswoman for President-elect Trump did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.
It’s no secret that Trump has a contentious relationship with the media. During his campaign, Trump routinely derided the media and instructed his crowd to “boo” reporters covering his events, leading supporters to act in an unruly manner toward the press who cover him.
Trump has called reporters out by name, referred to them as “scum” and “disgusting,” and has said he was running against the “crooked media.”
Over the course of his tenure, President Barack Obama developed his own contentious relationship with the White House press, with crackdowns on whistleblowers and extending access to more friendly sources outside of traditional outlets.
On Thursday, the refusal of access to the Trumps’ arrival on the South Lawn of the White House drew scrutiny in the press briefing, with reporters noting there were no pictures made available of the two couples together.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest defended the level of access, saying that while there was coverage of the arrival of the Obamas when they met the Bushes in 2008, there was no coverage of remarks from either.
“I wasn’t part of designing the press access for 2008, so I can’t account for all of the reasons for that,” Earnest said. “But the press access that we put together today was based on the guidance that we’ve received from all of you over the last eight years about what the priority is. And we were pleased to be in a position to provide that today.”