Jon Karl Defends Kaitlan Collins After Seating Clash With WH: Reporters Shouldn’t Have to Worry About Retaliation


ABC News chief White House correspondent Jon Karl, currently the head of the White House Correspondents Association, defended CNN’s Kaitlan Collins over a recent clash over seating at Friday’s White House coronavirus task force briefing.

Collins said that the White House tried to have her swap seats with another correspondent, even though it’s the WHCA that designates seats. Collins and the reporter she was told to switch with both refused to move. A White House official reportedly threatened to get the Secret Service involved.

Karl told CNN’s Brian Stelter it “may seem like a trivial issue but it really wasn’t”:

“What happened here right before the briefing on Friday is the administration said that they were going to pick and choose who sits where in the briefing room. Let me tell you, Brian, the White House Correspondents Association, really since our founding back in 1914 — the reason we were founded is Woodrow Wilson wanted reporters to determine who could come and not come to press conferences. But for as long as there have been seats in that briefing room, the White House Correspondents Association has had a say in who sits where. The reason for that is you don’t want a reporter, Kaitlan Collins, for instance, to worry if she asks a question that upsets the president that the president will retaliate by moving her to the back row or kicking her out of the briefing room. That is a bedrock principle. So we will fight for that. And, you know, it’s longstanding, it’s been a practice that has worked.”

Karl also addressed the issue the WHCA has had with OANN, saying, “We went through some very difficult and painful moves to try to comply with social distancing [in the briefing room]… This organization has decided to violate those rules and have somebody come in and it’s… we don’t control the Secret Service, we can’t say somebody’s got to be removed. We can say they will not now have a seat in that briefing room. It’s done.”

You can watch above, via ABC News.

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Josh Feldman is a Senior Editor at Mediaite. Email him here: Follow him on Twitter: @feldmaniac