I'm curious if these two organizations (OANN and Newsmax)--both known for being more pro-Trump than even Fox News-- and both still part of the White House press corps as far as I can tell were present at Biden's administration press conferences. If so, have they asked any questions at those Biden WH press events thus far?

(There has been some reporting that OANN has been removing some of their election-conspiracy-fraud claims from their website. It's a bit unclear if that was mainly because they want to avoid being sued by Dominion Systems or if they're trying to take a more conciliatory tone towards the Biden presidency now. So, I'm curious what kind of questions they asked, if any, at Biden WH press events.)

  • They’d have to be called on by the press secretary first, which seems unlikely. Jan 25, 2021 at 0:16
  • @jeffronicus: I looked at a few minutes of such a press conference and it's not too clear who gives the cues. It seemed to me journalists in the room just shoot their questions. The camera surely doesn't catch everything, perhaps there is someone giving cues or the microphone... I guess I could ask that separately. Jan 25, 2021 at 10:33

2 Answers 2


Not at the time of this question being asked; the first question asked by a reporter from either Newsmax or OANN was at the Jan 25th press briefing. Newsmax White House Correspondent Emerald Robinson was called upon by Press Secretary Jen Psaki:

Psaki: Go ahead, all the way in the back. All the way in the back.

Robinson: Hi.

Psaki: And then I’ll come to you. Sorry, go ahead.

Robinson: Thanks, Jen. In an executive order that the President signed last week, he also suspended a Trump administrative — administration executive order that was particularly aimed at keeping foreign countries, specifically China, from interfering in the U.S. power grid. But he suspended that for 90 days in that executive order last week. Given what you said about China today, why did he do that, especially related to something so critical to our national security as the power grid?

Psaki: I’ll have to — I think the President’s view on our relationship with China I tried to do my best to convey to all of you. I’ll have to check on that specific piece, and we’ll — we’ll circle back with you directly.

A Politico article published just before this press conference explains why, at that point, neither organization had had the chance to put questions - the limited rotation of journalists in place due to social distancing restrictions. In the case of OANN's correspondent Chanel Rion, she was ejected from the rotation in Spring 2020 due to violating social distancing rules. She attended subsequent conferences as a special guest of the Trump administration, but the Biden administration is not extending these invitations. In Newsmax's case, it is simply a matter of not coming up in the rotation yet - something confirmed by Robinson's attendance on the 25th.

  • The Politico article also mentions that Fox News' Peter Doocy was the reporter who asked about Biden's unmasked appearance at the Lincoln Memorial. (I remember that issue being reported by multiple outlets, including the response from Psaki, but who had asked the question was less often said/repeated, even in right-wing media, e.g. WashExam. Not mentioning the [niche] competition is good for [own] business, I guess.) Jan 26, 2021 at 11:37
  • @Fizz if you're interested in conservative media questions in general, you might find Owen Jensen's question at the first press briefing interesting, on the Hyde Amendment and the Mexico City Policy.
    – CDJB
    Jan 26, 2021 at 11:40

No questions have been asked yet, and it seems unlikely they will be able to soon.

NPR reporter Steve Inskeep: How do you think you will engage the right-wing media ecosystem, if I can call it that? I'm thinking of networks like Fox, but also OANN and Newsmax that have larger and larger audiences..

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki: The first interview that I did after I was announced as White House press secretary was with Chris Wallace on Fox. I do think there is a difference, as I think everybody knows, between some of the anchors and reporters at a network like Fox and some of the personalities. I will not be doing an interview with Sean Hannity. I think that wouldn't serve anybody, including the president-elect, who's the most important factor there. In terms of, you know, [OANN] and kind of other right-wing entities? I don't think my job as the White House press secretary is to give them a bigger platform. But at the same time, when we're at a point when it's COVID-safe and there is a full briefing room, I also don't think it's my job to keep people out.


Moreover, reporter access itself is a third of what it used to be.

White House officials stressed that they won’t take steps to banish pro-Trump voices from the White House...And they seem keen on not going down the same path the Obama White House did, when it took steps to freeze out Fox...But Biden’s aides also promised not to allow outlets to use the briefings to spread baseless conspiracies.

“We expect reporters covering the White House to operate in good faith and tell their audience the truth, and this White House will do the same. We are moving forward with that mutual understanding,” said T.J. Ducklo, the deputy White House press secretary. “Organizations or individuals who traffic in conspiracy theories, propaganda and lies to spread disinformation will not be tolerated, and we’ll work with the WHCA to decide how to handle those instances moving forward.”

Coronavirus guidelines have significantly slashed access to the briefing room, curtailing crowded meetings where the full gamut of networks on the right could participate. Currently, just 14 of the briefing room’s 49 seats are filled. The WHCA and White House both want to expand that, but have no immediate plans to do so as Covid rages. While the WHCA has moved in recent days to cycle more outlets through the briefings, Trump-aligned hosts and right-leaning reporters who didn’t get into the room last week argue the current group of attendees went soft on Biden.


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    "[...] disinformation will not be tolerated". Hmm. Trump tried to restrict access to a reporter he didn't like, and that was judged a violation of the 1st Amendment. It will be interesting to see how the Biden White House handles this. Its no less of a 1st Amendment violation if the ejected reporter is telling demonstrable lies. Jan 26, 2021 at 15:53

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