One LGBTQ news reporter in Washington stopped White House staff from abusing their power in an effort to change the tone/atmosphere within the briefing room.
On April 24, a White House staffer tried to micromanage journalists within the briefing room. Specifically, White House production assistant Katie Price attempted to move CNN reporter Kaitlin Collins from her front-row seat to a spot in the back. As for the back seat, it belonged to Washington Blade reporter Chris Johnson. As the Washington Blade reports, Johnson initially declined this transfer. That’s when the threat of Secret Service involvement came into play.
“The White House is invoking the Secret Service and using cheap intimidation tactics to scare reporters into other seats,” says Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple in the video found below, “They’re using these seats to accomplish a change in tone in the briefing room. The president doesn’t want to answer — or even face — the sort of questions that CNN and other outlets are asking in that briefing room. It doesn’t matter where you put the reporters; those questions have to be answered.”
Keep in mind, Katie Price and White House staff are already overstepping their power with the attempt of moving reporters. It’s not the White House staff who decide where reporters sit within the briefing room, but the White House Correspondents’ Association. That power was given to the association because of the fear that an administration would attempt exactly what Trump, Price, and the administration tried here. An executive administration should not be capable of punishing reporters and/or silencing their voices/questions by moving their seat assignments.
Recognizing this fact, Chris Johnson, who again works for LGBTQ news source the Washington Blade, refused to switch seats with CNN reporter Kaitlin Collins. After the moment passed, CNN’s Jim Acosta, who also was removed from the briefing room by the Trump administration but was later reinstated by a federal judge, praised Johnson.
“Chris Johnson, thank goodness for him, refused to get up out of his seat,” stated Acosta. “So, it took almost an act of civil disobedience to foil their plans.”
The Washington Blade also praised their reporter for his professionalism and commitment to ethics.
“As the Blade Foundation continues its mission to support the next generation on LGBTQ reporters, Johnson is the role model we aspire to keep supporting. Blade Scholarship recipient Phillip Van Slooten, said last year that visibility matters and we could not agree more. If people didn’t know who Chris Johnson was before and who he represents, they will now. And, they’ll know that the LGBTQ perspective and voice matters and that it not only represents the community but supports its allies.”
In a turbulent time with an executive branch that repeatedly oversteps its legal boundaries, it’s good to see LGBTQ reporters fighting for what’s right and lawful.