Washington, D.C., February 27, 2019–The White House today barred four journalists from covering a dinner in Hanoi between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, citing “sensitivities over shouted questions,” according to news reports. The unusual move came a day after Vietnamese officials relocated the White House press corps filing center from the Melia Hotel, where Kim and his entourage were also staying, according to news reports.
“President Donald Trump and the White House are setting a terrible example, restricting press coverage while meeting with a ruthless foreign dictator of a nation that enjoys no press freedom at all,” said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Steven Butler. “North Korea’s efforts to block the press are deplorable, if unsurprising, but the U.S. government has no business acquiescing in this behavior.”
Blocked from covering the dinner were reporters from The Associated Press, Bloomberg News, the Los Angeles Times and Reuters, according to The Washington Post. A White House effort to admit only photographers and television crews led to a pushback from journalists, and eventually a single reporter and a radio journalist were allowed to observe the dinner, but did not ask questions, reports said. In a statement, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said that the press pool for dinner was limited because of the “sensitive nature of the meetings.”