White House restricts US press access to Kim Jong Un summit

U. S. President Donald Trump gestures toward the media with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella resort on Sentosa Island Tuesday, June 12, 2018, in Singapore. (Kevin Lim/The Straits Times via AP)
North Korea leader Kim Jong Un looks at the news media during a photo session during a expanded bilateral meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump at the Capella resort on Sentosa Island Tuesday, June 12, 2018 in Singapore. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

SINGAPORE — The White House restricted journalists' access to parts of President Donald Trump's summit with Kim Jong Un on Tuesday despite long-standing arrangements intended to ensure the public is kept fully abreast of key presidential moments, such as the first meeting in history with a North Korean leader.

Under standard rules agreed to by the White House and the press corps, a full pool of reporters travels with the president at all times and is allowed at any meetings where press access in granted, even if space is limited. The group includes representatives from various forms of media — such as TV, print and photos — who then pool the information they gather with other news outlets that are unable to be present because of space.

During the photo-op at the start of Trump's one-on-one meeting with Kim, text reporters for newswires The Associated Press, Reuters and Bloomberg were kept out of the pool, as were the designated representatives for radio and the foreign press corps. Although a television cameraman and sound technician were allowed in, the TV networks' editorial representative — responsible for relaying information to colleagues about what occurs or is said during the photo-op — was not.

Some, but not all, were later allowed in for the photo-op of Trump's larger meeting with Kim and aides from both countries.

No independent journalists were allowed in for another photo-op at the start of a working lunch meeting involving Trump, Kim and top aides. U.S. journalists learned that the lunch was underway only when footage from inside was displayed on a video feed provided by summit host Singapore.

"AP is troubled by the decision to curb media access at the Singapore summit," said Lauren Easton, AP's director of media relations and a spokeswoman for the news cooperative. "It is a disservice to the public, which deserves prompt, accurate and complete reporting on what may be one of the president's most consequential meetings."

Margaret Talev, president of the White House Correspondents' Association, said objections were repeatedly raised with the White House about restricting access for the Singapore summit. She said the limitations "showed in the news coverage," as reporters and news networks struggled at times to figure out exactly what Trump and Kim had said.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment about why the full pool was not permitted to cover the events.

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