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Report: Biden staff asking reporters to share questions ahead of briefings

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President Joe Biden’s communications staff have probed White House reporters to see what questions they plan on asking new White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki during briefings, The Daily Beast reports.

During a White House Correspondents Association video call last week, WHCA leaders advised reporters to not respond to the Biden team’s inquiries.

“While it’s a relief to see briefings return, particularly with a commitment to factual information, the press can’t really do its job in the briefing room if the White House is picking and choosing the questions they want,” one White House correspondent said, according to The Daily Beast. “That’s not really a free press at all.”

“It pissed off enough reporters for people to flag it for the [WHCA] for them to deal with it,” another source said.

At Psaki’s debut briefing on Inauguration Day, she promised to restore regular briefings, saying she had a “deep respect for the role of a free and independent press,” and that they shared “a common goal, which is sharing accurate information with the American people.”

So far, at each early press conference, Psaki has fielded questions from every reporter in the room.

Biden’s press team did not deny that they have been probing reporters but explained that talking to reporters is part of an effort to foster a better relationship with the press than the previous administration. The press team reportedly reaches out to reporters directly in order to avoid appearing to dodge questions during briefings.

“Our goal is to make the daily briefing as useful and informative as possible for both reporters and the public,” a White House spokesperson reportedly said. “Part of meeting that objective means regularly engaging with the reporters who will be in the briefing room to understand how the White House can be most helpful in getting them the information they need. That two-way conversation is an important part of keeping the American people updated about how government is serving them.”

Under previous administrations, many White House reporters would gather informally in the morning to talk with the press secretaries. During these gatherings, White House communications staff could get a sense of the topics reporters were interested in that day, and would come prepared for questions during televised briefings later in the afternoon.

Eric Schultz, a former deputy press secretary in the Obama administration, told The Daily Beast that finding out what reporters are focusing on was standard procedure in most pre-Trump White Houses in order to reduce the number of questions that go unanswered during televised briefings.

The Biden administration is taking a different approach in order to restore normalcy to the briefing process, Schultz said.

Follow Annaliese Levy on Twitter @AnnalieseLevy

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Chinese Spy Balloon: Tensions rise between the U.S. and China

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A strange object was spotted Wednesday over Billings Montana. The Pentagon confirmed Thursday that the strange object was, in fact, a Chinese spy balloon. According to a report from KPAX, a western Montana news outlet, the balloon had been on the governments radar for days.

On Friday, the Chinese government released a statement saying that the balloon spotted in Billings is a “civilian airship” that’s sole purpose is used to collect research on weather and that it had just blown off course. The balloon was not shot down by orders of the Pentagon due to the risk of falling debris injuring people on the ground.

Sara Carter, who has spoken frequently on the Chinese government’s threat and expansion to the West, stated on Twitter that the United States has failed to stop China from purchasing land near military installations, vital agricultural land, as well as, allowing Chinese linked companies, such as Huawei, to install technology in cellular towers. Those cellular towers are located in Montana, along side more than 150 ICBM nuclear silos.

China said, “The Chinese side regrets the unintended entry of the airship into U.S. airspace due to force majeure.” Majeure meaning that it was out of there control. It blew off course due to limited “self-steering” capabilities according the Ministry. The ministry also stated that the balloon, “deviated far from its planned course.”

This incident is adding fuel to the fire of what is already a tense relationship between the worlds two largest economies. China already lays claim to approximately 80% of the South China Sea, and is seeking full control over Taiwan after assuming full control of Hong Kong. China’s belt and road initiative has invested copious amounts of money into building infrastructure in other countries and uses it as economic blackmail. China’s transportation of fentanyl into Mexico is yet again another example of how they are seeking to damage the US.

Is this just a weather ballon that blew off course? US officials at the White House seem to be unconvinced and will continue to monitor the balloon, as reported.

UPDATED: Statement from the Pentagon was jaw dropping when a reporter asked if the public has a right to know about Beijing’s balloon.

“The public certainly has the ability to look up in the sky and see where the balloon is,” a DOD official responded.

 

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