White House Says Close Press Seating ‘Looks Better’ After It’s Criticized by Reporters Amid Pandemic

“This is a flagrant violation of CDC guidelines,” ABC News chief White House correspondent Jon Karl says

Trump Rose Garden
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The White House explained Friday why press pool chairs were placed closer together during a conference called by President Donald Trump to herald improved unemployment numbers amid the ongoing pandemic: “It looks better.”

Trump called a press conference in the Rose Garden Friday — though it wasn’t technically a press conference as he did not take questions — and journalists arrived to find that their chairs were close together, which White House Correspondents Association president Jon Karl immediately pointed out is “a flagrant violation of CDC guidelines.”

White House spokesperson Judd Deere told TheWrap, “It was my decision. It looks better. I would remind you that those in the pool are tested, everyone is temperature checked, and asked if they have had symptoms.”

“This is a flagrant violation of CDC guidelines on social distancing and a move that puts reporters at risk for the purpose of turning the press corps into a prop for a so-called ‘press conference’ where the president refuses to answer a single question,” wrote Karl on Twitter.

Karl, who serves as ABC News’ chief White House correspondent, was responding to photos posted by CNN’s Jim Acosta.

“The news conference was initially set up for social distancing. Then the WH rearranged the chairs,” Acosta wrote, posting before and after shots of the setup.

CNN’s Betsy Klein and Jeremy Diamond also noted the seats were not socially distanced.