CNN rejects request for White House press pool to report from debate studio

CNN rejects request for White House press pool to report from debate studio

CNN is rejecting a request from the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) to allow a pool reporter to be in the room for the entirety of Thursday night’s debate between President Biden and former President Trump.

“WHCA is deeply concerned that CNN has rejected our repeated requests to include the White House travel pool inside the studio. Through conversations and advocacy, we urged CNN to grant access to at least one print pool reporter for the duration of the debate,” Kelly O’Donnell, NBC News reporter and president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, wrote in a statement Thursday.

“A pool reporter is present to provide context and insight by direct observation and not through the lens of the television production. A pool reporter is an independent observer whose duties are separate from the production of the debate as a news event.”

The WHCA noted that CNN itself “is a good citizen of our association and a vital partner in the daily coverage of the White House press corps.”

“We recognize CNN is investing significant resources to host this debate and we wish them every success,” O’Donnell said. “WHCA respectfully requests that CNN adjust its plan and welcome the White House travel pool print representative to witness the debate in full for the sake of the news cycle, for history and mostly importantly for the American people.”

CNN, in a statement to The Hill, rejected the WHCA’s request and said the network “respect[s] the role the organization plays and their support for press freedom and access.”

“CNN’s Presidential Debate is being held without an audience in a CNN studio and is closed to press,” the network said. “The feed was made available to Washington Pool Members, Washington Pool subscribers and CNN Affiliates, and is also available to embed via CNN’s YouTube channel without charge for digital outlets and is available on”

CNN also noted it is “providing access to the debate studio for a tight pool of photographers for the duration of the event and a larger group of photographers during a commercial break.”

“In addition, CNN is providing access to the debate hall for the designated print pool reporter during the first commercial break to allow them to provide a pool report from inside the debate studio,” a spokesperson for the outlet said.

CNN has come under intense scrutiny in the lead-up to the debate about the ground rules it has placed on both candidates and whom it has credentialed to cover the event.

Trump’s campaign, which has agreed to the ground rules for Thursday’s debate, has repeatedly accused the network of bias against him.

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.