The White House Correspondents Association is considering a proposed change to its bylaws, requiring “regular members” of the organization to be credentialed through or work for an organization recognized by the Congressional Standing Committee.
Organization president and Reuters White House correspondent Jeff Mason suggested the reason for the change is that the Congressional Standing Committee is the “gold standard” for credentialing in the nation’s capital.
The White House Correspondents Association does not issue credentials itself. The mission of the organization is to advocate for freedom of the press, access to the White House and provides scholarships for exceptional journalism students.
Six journalists are circulating a letter opposing the rules change, including liberal commentator Bill Press, longtime independent correspondent Connie Lawn, and reporters for Newsmax, Circa and The Daily Signal. Charlie Spiering, White House correspondent for Breitbart, wrote in the letter that:
“The WHCA Board has in most cases done a great job in advocating for journalists’ access, and showing respect to all members. The proposed bylaws change regarding membership is an unfortunate exception. That’s because the bylaws change would mean some members and hard pass holders who regularly cover the White House will not have full participation in the organization that is supposed to represent them regarding access among other things.”
Breitbart was denied congressional press passes earlier this year, meaning reporters for the conservative news outlet would be eligible for associate membership, but not full membership in the White House Correspondents Association. The Congressional Standing Committee rejected Breitbart’s press passes over concerns about its ties to the Mercer family, who are Republican benefactors, and to the Government Accountability Institute, a nonprofit co-founded by former Breitbart chairman and White House strategist Steve Bannon.
Members of the White House Correspondents Association have until Friday to vote on the change to bylaws.