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No news is bad news in the briefing room

Debra Saunders on

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Post and The New York Times aren't sending reporters to the Trump White House for daily briefings.

Washington Post executive editor Martin Baron explained, "We have to keep in mind our reporters' health and those of our colleagues at other media outlets," as he noted that Post reporters were exposed to a symptomatic reporter who later tested negative.

New York Times' executive editor Dean Baquet said that possible exposure to the coronavirus and the White House news briefings' lack of news value drove his decision, The Washington Post reported.

How low the titans of journalism have slumped.

News outlets routinely send reporters into war zones and natural disasters with ugly death tolls. Yet somehow the White House is just too dangerous?

It's one thing for editors to tell reporters who can work at home to do so and to direct journalists who are at high risk to cede their spots to other colleagues. It's another thing for major news organizations to engage in -- what else can you call it? -- a boycott.

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies reporters as essential workers whose presence is vital in keeping the public informed.

In effect, Baron and Baquet are arguing: We're not essential. We don't need to be there. Our crew can watch it on TV.

Liberal bias surely is a driver, and also can be seen in the debate as to whether cable news should air the ratings-rich briefings. It's no accident that this debate is percolating as President Donald Trump's approval ratings have been inching upward.

Washington Post columnist Margaret Sullivan wrote: "Business as usual simply doesn't cut it. Minor accommodations, like fact-checking the president's statements afterward, don't go nearly far enough to counter the serious damage this man is doing to the public's well-being."

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