The White House blocked the New York Post from covering a Monday public event with President Joe Biden, according to the paper, a sign the president's team is increasingly sensitive to coverage of the president's son, Hunter Biden, and could be cracking down on media access after the launch of his reelection campaign.
The Post, which first revealed the existence of Hunter Biden's abandoned laptop in October of 2020, said the White House rejected its request to attend Biden's press event discussing airline policies with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. The decision comes as federal prosecutors are wrapping up a tax investigation into Hunter Biden, which could result in criminal charges in the coming days.
Photos from the event show there were about 20 empty media seats, undermining the explanation from the White House press office for the decision to block the Post.
"We are unable to accommodate your credential request to attend the Investing in Airline Accountability Remarks on 5/8," the White House press office told the Post. "The remarks will be live-streamed and can be viewed at WH.gov. Thank you for understanding. We will let you know if a credential becomes available."
Biden—who has held the fewest press availabilities of any president in two decades—in February blew up at a Post reporter after the reporter asked during a similar media event about the first family's financial dealings with China. "Give me a break, man," Biden said, ignoring the question. "You can come to my office and ask a question when you have more polite people with you."
Steven Nelson, the Post reporter who was denied access, told the Washington Free Beacon that Biden's staff are "setting an anti-press freedom precedent by prescreening journalists allowed to attend large indoor events. These spaces were open to all reporters on White House grounds in the past."
He noted that White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre promised last July to end a much-criticized COVID-era screening process that gave Biden's press office control over which reporters were allowed to attend presidential remarks. Reporters accused the White House of arbitrarily enforcing the policy, saying it was "done without any transparent process into how reporters are selected to cover these events" in a letter last June.
"The White House Correspondents' Association also has called on the administration to restore large indoor spaces to their historical status as open to all," added Nelson. "If the Biden White House continues to discriminate against large outlets such as the New York Post, future administrations can do the same to other newspapers. It should end now."
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The White House Correspondents' Association also did not respond to a request for comment.
Update 5:34 p.m.: This piece has been updated since publication.