President Donald Trump held a meeting Wednesday with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, a key figure in the FBI’s probe into the administration’s possible collusion with Russia — but American journalists were kept at arm’s length.
The visit by Russian officials — Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also joined in — was particularly noteworthy because it came just hours after Trump abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey, who was leading the agency’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential race.
But the only images of the meeting were released by a Russian photographer.
Politico reports the usual rotating White House pool of photographers and reporters wasn’t allowed in. But photos of the meeting that showed Trump and Russian officials laughing and smiling were published by the Russian foreign ministry and by the Russian news agency TASS.
A White House official told Politico: “Our official photographer and their official photographer were present, that’s it.”
The decision to shut out media outlets from Wednesday’s meeting created a bizarre situation in which news organizations had to decide whether to use state-sponsored photos handed out by a foreign government.
Fox News chose not to air them in protest.
“We think it’s important that the press have access to official photos from the White House, which we don’t,” Fox News anchor Jenna Lee said Wednesday. “So, we’re not going to share them. You can probably see them online.”
CNN aired a photo tweeted out by the Russian foreign ministry and one tweeted out by the Russian embassy while anchor Wolf Blitzer noted that “American pool cameras were not allowed into the room for any coverage.”
An NBC spokesperson told TheWrap that all NBC and MSNBC reports about the meeting have noted that U.S. journalists were not allowed into the meetings and that the White House has not released any photos. The networks displayed the source of the photos onscreen.
CBS sent a memo to its staff telling them they could use the images as long as they mentioned that they came from the Russian government and that the U.S. pool was not allowed to attend.
“We can and should use the pictures which the Kremlin sent out of the White House meeting among President Trump and the Russian foreign minister and ambassador,” head of standards Al Ortiz wrote in an email obtained by TheWrap. “But you should say where they came from (Russian government), and we should report that the US pool was kept out of the meeting.”
Here’s one of the images, which, as we’ve noted, comes by way of Russia.
US press was shut out of the White House as President Donald Trump hosted Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak. This photo of Trump shaking hands with Kislyak was tweeted by the Russian Embassy to the US. Kislyak has been a central figure in the controversy, as then-national security adviser Michael Flynn was fired after it emerged that he had misrepresented conversations with Kislyak to others in the White House. The meeting took place amid the swirling investigation of Russian contacts with Trump campaign and transition officials in 2016 and the firing of FBI Director James Comey, who was handling the probe. #donaldtrump #russia #whitehouse #jamescomey #news #politics #cnn