Posted on

BuzzFeed News Pulls Reporter From White House, Citing Virus Risk

BuzzFeed News has pulled a political correspondent from the White House press pool, citing concerns that the area has become a coronavirus hot zone after President Trump, many of his top aides — including the press secretary Kayleigh McEnany — and several journalists have tested positive for the virus.

A BuzzFeed News spokesman, Matt Mittenthal, confirmed that the company on Tuesday had withdrawn the correspondent, Kadia Goba, from her Wednesday shift out of concern for her safety.

Reporters rotate into the White House press pool, a group of journalists that represents the wider corps to share coverage of the president and the day’s events. The pool includes representatives of wire news services, newspapers and news sites, as well as television and radio outlets.

“Anyone that knows me understands I’d rather be at the White House working today,” Ms. Goba said, “but at the same time, there are obvious concerns about working indoors during an outbreak.”

She added, “I don’t want to be knocked out for the rest of the election because I’m sick.”

After BuzzFeed News notified other news organizations on Tuesday that its reporter would not work her shift, an email circulated among members of the press pool asking for someone to fill in.

“We are in uncharted territory,” Todd J. Gillman, the Washington bureau chief of the Dallas Morning News, who coordinates the print pool, wrote in the email, which was reviewed by The New York Times.

“No one wants anyone to take unwarranted risk,” he added. “Nor do we want the pool system to collapse.”

Politico sent a reporter, Meredith McGraw, to cover the White House in place of the BuzzFeed correspondent.

In addition to the president and Ms. McEnany, the coronavirus outbreak has ensnared nearly a dozen members of the Trump administration. Two other members of the White House press team, including a relative of Ms. McEnany, are known to have tested positive. At least three journalists who have covered the White House reported that they were infected, including Michael D. Shear, a reporter at The New York Times.

In a statement Wednesday, the White House Correspondents’ Association said that dozens of tests had been conducted on members of its press corps since Friday, and there have been no additional cases of coronavirus.

The association continued to encourage the wearing of masks and the use of regular testing on Wednesday, and said that it had pushed the White House to give the press corps more information about known infections so that journalists could evaluate the risk.

“Still, despite everything we’ve experienced in recent days, it would be foolish of us to assume that the situation at the White House or on the campaign trail will improve dramatically over the coming four weeks,” the statement said.

“That means that we as a press corps, and each of us individually, must be cleareyed about the potential risks of Covid exposure on the job, taking every precaution we can to fulfill our coverage obligations while being prepared for situations with which we may not be comfortable.”

Read More

Posted on

How Fox News Covered the Trump Tax Story on Monday

The popular Fox News morning show “Fox & Friends” was a TV home for Donald J. Trump long before he became president. In 2011, Mr. Trump had a regular Monday slot on the program, where he bonded with the hosts by hurling invective at President Obama and promoting the false theory that he had not been born in the United States.

During Mr. Trump’s presidency, “Fox & Friends” has reliably offered him a forum when he has found himself under scrutiny. In November 2019, for instance, while facing an impeachment inquiry, the president made false, exaggerated and misleading statements in his own defense during a 53-minute appearance on the show.

On Monday, the day after The New York Times published a lengthy investigative article chronicling years of Mr. Trump’s tax avoidance and financial difficulties, “Fox & Friends” welcomed two guests from his camp, the White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and the president’s eldest child, Donald Trump Jr. Both tried to cast doubt on the article, which examined more than two decades of previously unavailable tax data showing that Mr. Trump had paid $750 in federal income taxes the year he was elected president, and no federal income tax in 10 of the previous 15 years.

In a segment that touched on the Times article, the Fox News correspondent Griff Jenkins noted that it was “probably going to come up” in the debate between the president and Joseph R. Biden on Tuesday night, a matchup to be moderated by the Fox News anchor Chris Wallace. Mr. Jenkins then passed the baton to the “Fox & Friends” co-host Ainsley Earhardt and her guest, Ms. McEnany.

Ms. Earhardt quickly homed in on the timing of the article’s publication, rather than its substance: “What do you make of the timing, the tax thing coming out a day before the debate?” she asked.

Sign up for On Politics to get the latest election and politics news and insights.

Ms. McEnany likened the article to past Times reports about President Trump, one of which she described as a “hit piece.” “This is the same playbook they tried in 2016 and the same playbook that the American people rejected and will do so again,” the press secretary said, before shifting to a discussion of Mr. Trump’s debate preparations.

Mr. Trump Jr., during his appearance on “Fox & Friends,” called the article “ridiculous” and said his father had “paid tens of millions of taxes,” adding that “people don’t understand what goes into a business.” He also criticized The Times for focusing on the president’s finances, saying, “If only they spent as much time looking for, maybe, I don’t know, Hunter Biden’s tax returns and the Biden crime family issues.”

The reference to a Biden “crime family,” a staple phrase among many right-wing supporters of the president, is an unproven smear. Last week, an investigation by Senate Republicans into corruption allegations against the Democratic presidential nominee and his son Hunter found no evidence of improper influence or wrongdoing by the former vice president. The investigation concluded that Hunter Biden’s work for a scandal-plagued Ukrainian energy company, while “problematic,” did not affect his father’s handling of American foreign policy.

Mr. Trump Jr. has been an aggressive proxy for his father on the campaign trail. Last week, Facebook and Twitter flagged a Trump campaign video ad featuring Mr. Trump Jr. because it violated recently implemented standards on both platforms meant to guard against the spread of misinformation. In the ad, Mr. Trump Jr. claimed without evidence that the “radical left” was attempting to “steal this election from my father” with “millions of fraudulent ballots.”

During a news conference Sunday, President Trump tried to dismiss The Times report, saying “it’ll all be revealed” after an audit by the Internal Revenue Service. The I.R.S. has repeatedly said that its review process does not prohibit a taxpayer from making tax returns public.

Read More