Reporters who can’t pay the nearly $200 needed for COVID-19 tests for each visit will soon be effectively banned from the White House.
According to the Washington Examiner, President Joe Biden’s administration has moved to begin requiring journalists to pay for their own coronavirus tests each time they visit the White House.
The tests cost $170 — and at that price tag, it adds up fast, especially for smaller news outlets, as the Examiner notes.
“A means test”
To be clear, the reporters are already tested regularly for COVID-19. But up to this point, the White House has been the one to front the bill for these tests.
Typically, according to the Examiner, a reporter’s news outlet covers such costs as flying fees and temporary workspaces while they report on the president. The White House, meanwhile, has historically covered costs related to the health and safety of those journalists.
But the Biden administration is now arguing that paying for the coronavirus tests has become a financial strain. Their decision to stop paying up prompted a swift backlash.
One unnamed member of the White House Correspondents Association told The Washington Post that the policy “sets up a means test for White House coverage.”
Truth and transparency?
Anders Hagstrom, White House correspondent for the Daily Caller, similarly argued that this new requirement would, in effect, ban some outlets from covering the White House.
“I remember all of D.C. media getting up in arms when the Trump administration banned single reporters from the White House,” Hagstrom said, according to the Washington Examiner. “If this goes into effect, it would effectively ban multiple entire outlets,” he added.
Others felt the Biden administration was acting in bad faith. “I think part of ‘bringing truth and transparency back to the briefing room’ is not making it prohibitively expensive for smaller outlets with tight budgets to go to the White House,” said Max Tani of The Daily Beast.
Despite the backlash, it seems the White House is not backing away from this plan. It has agreed to accept outside COVID-19 tests, though it remains unclear which ones and how much those would cost.
According to the Examiner, the new policy is expected to take effect on Monday.