The White House is refusing to allow their top health experts including Dr. Anthony Fauci to appear on CNN unless the cable network airs the coronavirus task force briefings in full, according to a CNN report.
The outlet has usually been airing the first part of the coronavirus briefings — the part where President Donald Trump speaks — and then cutting away to fact-check him after he leaves the podium. But Vice President Mike Pence’s office, which controls the bookings, apparently had a problem with that approach and they want the network to run the full briefings, which sometimes run for nearly two hours.
A spokesperson for Pence’s office told CNN, “When you guys cover the briefings with the health officials then you can expect them back on your air.”
The network reported that Pence’s office has blocked health experts from appearing on the network for the past week.
Some experts, like Fauci, were previously frequent faces on CNN. The network notes that Fauci appeared in their last five weekly town halls.
In an attempt to pressure CNN into airing the White House task force briefings in full, Vice President Mike Pence's office is declining to allow the country's top health officials to appear on the network https://t.co/Ds0f2oVw1A— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) April 9, 2020
While the briefings began as informative sessions in which the president and his health experts explained the coronavirus pandemic to the public, lately, they have become notable for the president’s frequent spats with reporters in the room.
The White House also received criticism in late March when Mike Lindell, the colorful founder of MyPillow, appeared at a coronavirus press briefing. He said that his company would be manufacturing personal protective masks, before going on to say, “God had been taken out of our schools [and] lives, a nation had turned its back on God.”
Previous to Lindell’s appearance, Trump had made other claims that put the veracity of the press conferences in question. In a mid-March coronavirus briefing, he said, “This is a very contagious — this is a very contagious virus. It’s incredible. But it’s something that we have tremendous control over.”