WHCA president: White House asked organization to publicly criticize reporter

The White House asked the White House Correspondents’ Association to single out a reporter and criticize an article, WHCA President Jeff Mason said on Monday evening.

Mason’s comment were made at a WHCA town hall where White House reporters pose questions to the WHCA board.

"The White House has come to ask me specifically, asking me to intervene or criticize a news organization or a reporter… to release a statement criticizing a reporter’s story," Mason said, declining to elaborate further on when the ask was made or about what article.

Mason said he declined to do so and that "we’ve made clear that’s not our role.”

Asked after the panel if the request was part of a new White House team learning how the WHCA works, Mason said he wasn’t sure but didn’t think so and that the White House clearly thought it was their role to publicly chastise the reporter.

"I think it’s a reflection of frustration they have with the media and they’ve used the relationship with the board sometimes to take that out, just as we have raised our concern and frustrations with them," Mason said. "Part of that relationship has been drawing boundaries on what we do and don’t do."

Mason said he didn’t "equivocate," immediately declining the White House’s request when they asked him to release a statement.

The WHCA represents the White House correspondents, organizing the rotating press pools, assigning seats in the White House briefing room and acting as both mediator and advocate for the White House press corps with the White House press staff.

White House spokespeople did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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