Jun 5, 2020 - Politics & Policy

WHCA: White House violated social-distancing guidelines to make reporters "a prop"

Several rows of people sit in the Rose Garden

Reporters watch President Trump in the Rose Garden on June 5. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

ABC News' Jonathan Karl, the president of the White House Correspondents' Association, said Friday that the White House "needlessly put reporters' health at risk" by moving chairs closer together for President Trump's Rose Garden event in violation of the CDC's social-distancing guidelines.

What he's saying: "The health of the press corps should not be put in jeopardy because the White House wants reporters to be a prop for a 'news conference' where the president refused to answer any questions," Karl told CNN's Brian Stelter.

  • Karl placed "news conference" in quotes because though it was billed as such by the White House press office, Trump did not take any questions from reporters during the 53-minute event.
  • "The chairs were initially positioned in a way that was consistent with social distancing guidelines but were moved closer together by White House staff shortly before the event started," Karl added.

The other side ... White House spokesperson Judd Deere told Axios that moving the chairs was his 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."

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