The White House is defending its near-total media blackout at migrant facilities Wednesday, telling the press corps to cover the border crisis based off the “B-roll” footage provided by the single pool camera the federal government is allowing into one facility.
Speaking from the briefing room, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was taken to task by numerous reporters over the Biden administration’s refusal to grant press the same access to these shelters they enjoyed under former President Donald Trump.
At first, Psaki noted that a single television camera, belonging to NBC News, would be permitted on a trip alongside Congress members and White House officials to a facility in Carrizo Springs, Tx.
Footage obtained by that television camera will immediately go to NBC, as well as other TV networks.
Non-television news outlets, including The Post, have not been told when to expect the raw, unedited footage.
Aside from that single camera, no journalists will be permitted in the facility.
Psaki only noted that networks would receive the footage during Wednesday’s briefing, saying, that “network pool footage” would be “provided to all of the networks so that you can all see, as the media for yourself, and be able to provide analysis on that pool footage.”
“We’ll continue to work with agencies on creating avenues for media access,” she said before noting that “privacy” for migrants and Covid-19 protocols needed to be considered.
“These facilities of course can’t become forums for media access all day long,” the White House press secretary continued.
Later on in the briefing, Psaki didn’t deny that the administration chose to show “an aspirational facility,” meaning one of the preferred shelters in terms of living conditions.
Asked if that was the most that media would be able to see, as opposed to the shelters facing overcrowding and allegations of harsher conditions, Psaki responded that, “We’re also open to providing access there, and this is just the first step in the process of providing greater access to the media.”
The Biden administration’s undoing of Trump’s border policies has prompted a flood of Central American and Mexican illegal immigrants at the US border, including thousands of unescorted children.
Central Americans looking for refuge from the Northern Triangle countries — El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala — have taken these policy moves, as well as the overwhelmingly more welcoming tone from Democrats, as a sign that this president is inviting them to cross the border.
Insisting that the border was not facing a crisis, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said earlier this month that the problems the agency faced should be blamed on the previous administration.
The data, however, overwhelmingly shows that migrants were flooding the border because they believed Biden would welcome them with open arms.
In addition to the migrant crisis, the administration is also facing a mounting crisis around transparency due to its strict restrictions on the press.
Asked if decisions on media access were imminent, and whether providing more access was being considered, Psaki said Wednesday that, “It’s ongoing, and we wanted to provide pool coverage. As you all know who are in the field of television that allows for a video camera to provide access to all the networks. We thought that would be a good first step.”
When pressed on the matter, the press secretary admitted that, “Well I would say we all agree that that the Border Patrol facilities are not places where children should be. Children should be moving more quickly through those facilities, that is what our policy central focus is right now.”
She again noted the pandemic and the staggering number of children being moved through these shelters before again being pressed on whether they planned to reinstate media access.
“We will [show the facilities] and we are working with the Border Patrol and with DHS to determine how we can do that.”