The National Press Club has published an open letter to Donald Trump, expressing transparency concerns after the president-elect ditched his press pool to take his family to dinner Tuesday night.
“As the new leader of the free world, we expect that you will preserve longstanding traditions that ensure coverage of the Trump presidency. The idea of a press pool that covers all of the president’s movements is one that dates back to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt administration,” NPC president Thomas Burr wrote. “Every president of both parties has treated this important tradition with respect.”
Trump left the press behind to take his family to dinner at the iconic 21 Club, which is located just a few blocks from Trump Tower in New York. Trump’s press secretary, Hope Hicks, told journalists around 6:15 p.m. that the president-elect was in for the night, but he was spotted at the restaurant shortly after and a photo quickly spread across Twitter.
Burr continued: “The role of the press pool is critically important to our country, whose citizens depend on and deserve to know what the president is doing. This isn’t about access for the press itself, it’s about access for Americans in diverse communities across the country. Your constituents receive information from a variety of platforms to learn about what our president is doing.”
The Press Club reminded Trump that, “Being president is an enormous responsibility and working with the White House Correspondents’ Association to ensure journalists’ access is one small but important part of that.”
The letter called on Trump to commit to a protective press pool from now until the final day of his presidency.
“We respectfully ask you to instill a spirit of openness and transparency in your administration in many ways but first and foremost via the press pool,” the letter said. “We also call for access to you via regular press conferences and pool sprays and to your key decision-makers.”
The letter concludes: “A great America depends on having sunlight on its leaders. We expect the traditions of White House press coverage to be upheld whether in Washington or elsewhere. Again we, a joint group of diverse journalism associations, speak as one as we respectfully ask that you take these steps to ensure access to our members covering your administration.”