CNN has been informed by a spokesman for Vice President Michael Pence that it cannot have access to top government health officials grappling with the nation’s coronavirus pandemic unless it televises specific portions of the Trump Administration’s daily briefings on the spread of the disease.
“When you guys cover the briefings with the health officials then you can expect them back on your air,” a Pence spokesperson told CNN, according to a report posted Thursday.
Spokespersons for CNN were not able to offer immediate comment on the situation. Health officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci have been regular guests on a weekly town-hall CNN has presented with Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta on Thursday nights.
The contretemps would mark just the latest in a series of disagreements between the AT&T-owned cable-news outlet and the Trump White House. President Donald Trump has regularly denigrated CNN’s coverage since taking office, and the network has maintained a “facts first” positioning, telling viewers and critics alike that it is beholden to find the truth of the stories it presents, not curry favor with the administration. That, however, has at times placed CNN in the role of the antagonist, particularly in conservative media circles.
CNN reported that it has not had an appearance by officials including Fauci, Dr. Deborah Birx, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn and Surgeon General Jerome Adams since last Thursday, even as those people have appeared on programs produced by CBS News, NBC News, ABC News and Fox News Channel.
CNN has faced similar problems in the past. For a period of time, Trump administration officials were resistant to appearing on “New Day,” the network’s morning program, particularly when former co-anchor Chris Cuomo took on guests in extra-long segments.
The administration briefings have become a hot topic among news critics, because President Trump often uses the forum to spread misinformation or brag about accomplishments. Several pundits have called for the news networks to stop televising the events, and several of them have taken to cutting away from the briefings depending upon the person talking and the details being discussed.