Joe Biden to charge reporters $170 for Covid-19 test before each briefing, Internet says 'Trump did it for free'

President Joe Biden's administration is reportedly planning to implement the measure on Monday, March 1, arguing that testing dozens of journalists each day has 'strained its budget'

Joe Biden to charge reporters $170 for Covid-19 test before each briefing, Internet says 'Trump did it for free'
President Joe Biden draws flak for planning to charge reporters for Covid-19 tests while former President Donald Trump did it for free (Getty Images)
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The White House press team is reportedly seeking to charge reporters $170 for mandatory Covid-19 tests whenever they enter the "People's House" for a briefing.

The Washington Post reported how President Joe Biden's administration is planning to implement the measure on Monday, March 1, arguing that testing dozens of journalists each day has "strained its budget."

While the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) has already raised objections to the move, critics have argued it would effectively give major outlets a monopoly on White House access and disable smaller news outlets from entering the campus, according to a report by The Daily Caller.

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Just hours after Biden's inauguration on January 20, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki vowed to bring “truth and transparency back to the briefing room,” cited the report while noting how former President Donald Trump's White House footed the bill for testing journalists almost on a daily basis for months before he left office. Meanwhile, Biden's White House has limited the number of tests to 80 per day.

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White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a daily press briefing at the White House on January 25, 2021, in Washington, DC (Getty Images)

Should the plan go through, major networks with large White House press pools would have to shell out over $1,300 a day for White House access. On the other hand, outlets with a smaller spending capacity may not be able to afford the charge at all, claimed the report.

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However, the White House has agreed to continue covering the cost of testing reporters who are part of the daily press pool, which is on a monthly rotation of a few dozens of outlets, according to the Daily Caller. Meanwhile, reporters who aren't on the poll for a given day would have to pay for testing before gaining access to the briefings.

Former President Donald Trump pauses during a news briefing on the latest development of the coronavirus outbreak in the US at the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on March 18, 2020, in Washington, DC (Getty Images)

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The policy has already prompted a significant backlash against the Biden administration. A WHCA member told the Post on condition of anonymity that the move "sets up a means test for White House coverage" as it will add further budget constraints to already struggling newspapers.

Several reporters lashed out at the White House on social media. "I remember all of DC media getting up in arms when the Trump administration banned single reporters from the White House," Daily Caller White House reporter Anders Hagstrom tweeted. "If this goes into effect, it would effectively ban multiple entire outlets." 

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"Paying a fee to keep the American public informed during a pandemic. This is really a terrific look," The Daily Beast Washington bureau chief Jackie Kucinich added. "Biden's press office wants to charge reporters $170 A DAY for COVID testing... Trump's press office didn't even consider it. How are they gonna spin this one?" Washington Times columnist Tim Young wrote.

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"Put another way: A small news outlet with one White House reporter, paying $170 for each virus test, would pay $170/day, $850/week, $3,400/month, and $40,800/year. That’s a lot for the privilege of covering Biden. Only bigger outlets could swing it," Trump spokesman Tim Murtaugh added. A user noted, "Reporters will have to start paying $170 for Covid testing to attend briefings Starting Monday. Trump Admin. did it 4 free. but Trump Admin Bad. Complain some more. lol"

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