In a statement following President Trump’s Friday address from the Rose Garden, White House Correspondents’ Association President Jonathan Karl accused the White House press office of deliberately moving the chairs set out for press “in a way that violated the federal government’s guidelines on social distancing and needlessly put reporters health at risk.” The explanation he received from the White House was that they put reporters closer together because it “looks better.”
That comment echoed what Trump himself said from the podium. “You’re getting closer together, even you, I noticed,” Trump told the reporters. “I noticed you’re starting to get much closer together. Looks much better.”
“The health of the press corps should not be put in jeopardy because the White House wants reporters to be a prop for a ‘news conference’ where the president refused to answer any questions,” Karl added.
CNN’s Chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta tweeted out before and after photos demonstrating how the chairs had been repositioned. Reporters Weijia Jiang and Yamiche Alcindor both pushed back on the suggestion that they “chose” to sit closer together. “We sit in the seats the White House sets up for us,” Jiang said.