Last week, the American Booksellers for Free Expression (ABFE) joined a coalition of government accountability, civil liberties, and press freedom organizations in sending a letter to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders concerning reports that the White House had barred CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins from covering a Rose Garden press event on July 25. Collins had asked President Trump questions that White House staff told her were “inappropriate” at a photo opportunity earlier that day, including a question about why Russian President Vladimir Putin had not accepted his invitation to visit the White House in the fall.
The letter describes the necessity of a free press for a functioning democracy and called on the White House to welcome all credentialed reporters to events where the press is admitted, including reporters who ask tough questions. In the letter, the signees reiterate a statement by White House Correspondents’ Association President Olivier Knox in response to this action: “Reporters asking questions of powerful government officials, up to and including the President, helps hold those people accountable.”
Organizations that signed the letter are the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, American Booksellers Association, American Society of Journalists and Authors, the Authors Guild, Defending Rights and Dissent, Demand Progress, DKT Liberty Project, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Free Press, Free Speech Coalition, Global Witness, Liberty Coalition, Media Freedom Foundation, Media Law Resource Center, National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, National Coalition Against Censorship, Open the Government, People for the American Way, PEN America, Project Censored, Sunlight Foundation, and Tully Center for Free Speech.