After CNN White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins was banned from President Donald Trump's Rose Garden event with the president of the European Commission on Wednesday, Fox News veteran Bret Baier––who hosts Special Report with Bret Baier on the network––came to her defense.
Speaking in his capacity as a fellow member of the White House Press Pool, Baier said he, along with Fox News, "stands firmly" with CNN on the issue of press access.
As a member of the White House Press pool- @FoxNews stands firmly with @CNN on this issue and the issue of access https://t.co/TFwfLQtP9h— Bret Baier (@Bret Baier) 1532558164.0
The White House, via press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, claimed that Collins had asked "inappropriate questions.
Collins asked twice: "Did Michael Cohen betray you, Mr. President?" Then she asked, "Mr. President, are you worried about what Michael Cohen is about to say to the prosecutors? Are you worried about what is on the other tapes, Mr. President?" She also tried asking: "Why is Vladimir Putin not accepting your invitation, Mr. President?"
Collins was then reprimanded by Sanders and communications chief Bill Shine and told she'd been banned from the Rose Garden event.
Baier's comment did not go over very well with many of his conservative followers, who sided with the president's decision to curb Collins's access to the event.
Some went so far as to say that Baier's defense of CNN––the network the president has denigrated as "fake news" more often than any other––had turned them off of watching Fox News altogether.
@BretBaier @FoxNews @CNN Bret, it’s called decorum... the press pool has lost their way... if they acted with a mod… https://t.co/iPU93V2haf— Marc (@Marc) 1532570663.0
@BretBaier @FoxNews @CNN Say it again, this person was RUDE! You be rude and we will gladly accept the White House… https://t.co/JdvQssd8Iy— Rod Gonzalez (@Rod Gonzalez) 1532573899.0
@BretBaier @FoxNews @CNN I can't stand with you on that, Bret. Yellow journalism is not only blatantly over the top… https://t.co/upRYipuQ1H— To The Things Themselves (@To The Things Themselves) 1532558455.0
Baier, for his part, has taken the criticisms gracefully and has even fired back at some of his more passionate opponents.
When Sam Donaldson would yell questions at Ronald Reagan - what do you think folks supporting the President called… https://t.co/3PKPU6QO1N— Bret Baier (@Bret Baier) 1532570443.0
Baier took one social media user to task after they implied that CNN had not come to the defense of Fox News before. Baier responded that CNN anchor Jake Tapper had, in fact, defended Fox News in the past.
When President Obama’s administration left us out of round robin interviews — CNN and @jaketapper spoke out for us.… https://t.co/KyxODNC4mK— Bret Baier (@Bret Baier) 1532571826.0
Tapper confirmed Baier's version of events:
@TonyNra2_A @BretBaier @FoxNews @CNN I was sticking up for James Rosen on air, Boo Boo. Where were you? https://t.co/x7oZFH1IKB— Jake Tapper (@Jake Tapper) 1532572051.0
When one social media user suggested that members of the press should try "raising" their hand when attempting to ask questions during White House press briefings, Baier had this to say:
That’s not how it works at the White House for what’s called a “pool spray”. Never has been. https://t.co/M70VjB7hvr— Bret Baier (@Bret Baier) 1532571947.0
Baier also shut down another user who accused him of being a member of the "deep state."
Actually you’re wrong. But thank you for weighing in. https://t.co/6bsFCoItW5— Bret Baier (@Bret Baier) 1532572944.0
And when another individual claimed that Baier's defense of CNN doesn't "make you ethical, it cheapens you," Baier reiterated what members of the White House press pool stand for: Access.
Sorry you feel that way. They are members of the WH press pool. Kaitlan was doing what pool reporters do. We sta… https://t.co/6xol92tKIY— Bret Baier (@Bret Baier) 1532573292.0
Baier is not the only journalist to criticize the White House's decision––far from it. Reporters from The Washington Post, NBC, and PBS (among others) weighed in on the controversy.
Today the White House retaliated against CNN’s @kaitlancollins for doing her job—which was to ask questions of the… https://t.co/gWSlWWtFwz— Dan Balz (@Dan Balz) 1532571079.0
What @kaitlancollins did today -- ask the president questions -- is what every reputable journalist must do. That i… https://t.co/dezg5PmgUo— Philip Rucker (@Philip Rucker) 1532561902.0
As today's radio pooler, I was in the Oval Office with @kaitlancollins, heard her questions, thought they were good… https://t.co/D0D99lSotF— Steven Portnoy (@Steven Portnoy) 1532556898.0
Adding my voice to those coming to the defense of @kaitlancollins. Asking the president questions about a timely to… https://t.co/klmo9Q1ZFY— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche Alcindor) 1532569854.0
CNN objected to the decision to ban Collins, calling it "retaliatory in nature" and "not indicative of an open and free press."
"Just because the White House is uncomfortable with a question regarding the news of the day doesn't mean the question isn't relevant and shouldn't be asked," the network said.
The White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) also condemned "the White House's misguided and inappropriate decision today to bar one of our members from an open press event after she asked questions they did not like."
But Sanders, in a statement of her own, maintained that the White House had made the right call.
Sanders claimed that Collins had "shouted questions and refused to leave despite repeatedly being asked to do so" at the press event.
"To be clear, we support a free press and ask that everyone be respectful of the presidency and guests at the White House," she added.
Statement on this from @PressSec. https://t.co/FdfS7mFC9V— Steve Herman (@Steve Herman) 1532561207.0
Sanders's statement prompted Peter Baker, the Chief White House Correspondent for The New York Times, to say that if shouting questions and refusing to leave are the standards of decorum by which White House press briefings are to be judged, then Sanders would have to "bar every member of the press pool."
In statement, White House @PressSec acknowledges barring CNN reporter @kaitlancollins because she “shouted question… https://t.co/h0typ9eOR0— Peter Baker (@Peter Baker) 1532560757.0
Toluse Olorunnipa, a reporter with Bloomberg News deemed Sanders's statement false.
.@PressSec is continuing to malign @kaitlancollins with a false statement saying she "refused to leave" the Oval Of… https://t.co/wVGm4cir1U— Toluse Olorunnipa (@Toluse Olorunnipa) 1532560447.0
Rex Huppke, a Chicago Tribune humor columnist went even further, saying that Republicans should "immediately call" for Sanders and Bill Shine to tender their resignations.
If congressional Republicans had even a remnant of a spine or a scrap of devotion to democracy, they would immediat… https://t.co/eIhEFzKFh9— Rex Huppke (@Rex Huppke) 1532559506.0
There has, unsurprisingly, been silence from Republicans on both the decision and justifications by the White House to ban Collins from the Rose Garden event.