Of all the mind-dizzying hypocrisies that have emanated from President Donald Trumpâ€™s communications office, it is hard to find any more outlandish than claiming to â€śsupport a free pressâ€ť while barring a reporter from an open White House event simply because it didnâ€™t like her questions. Outlandish, but not laughable; thereâ€™s nothing amusing about the administrationâ€™s retaliation against CNN correspondent Kaitlan Collins. It underscores - again - the White Houseâ€™s contempt for the critical role played by the media in a free society.
â€śHighly unusual and possibly unprecedentedâ€ť is how Post reporters characterized the decision, delivered by press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and communications director Bill Shine, to block Collins from attending an event Wednesday afternoon in the Rose Garden.
Earlier that day Collins sought to question the president about Trumpâ€™s invitation to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the recently released recording between Trump and his former attorney discussing a possible payoff to a former Playboy model.
The questions, Collins said she was later told, were inappropriate, and so she was barred from covering the Rose Garden event.
We get that there are issues that Trump may prefer on any given day not to discuss, but Collins, that dayâ€™s pool reporter representing the TV networks, was - as numerous other White House reporters have pointed out - asking the obvious questions raised by the dayâ€™s events. Trump didnâ€™t, as he demonstrated by ignoring Collins, have to answer the questions.
The White House press corps, ultra-competitive though it is, showed important solidarity in letting the White House know it had crossed a dangerous line by barring a disfavored reporter from a briefing.