BuzzFeed pulls White House reporter over coronavirus concern, saying Trump aides largely not wearing masks

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Members of the White House press corps work outside the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020.

Sarah Silbiger | Bloomberg | Getty Images

BuzzFeed News pulled its political reporter out of the White House press pool on Wednesday, saying that Trump administration aides in the facility have “largely not worn masks” or abided by other basic coronavirus protections.

The news site’s decision to withdraw journalist Kadia Goba from the press pool came after images showed White House aides standing outside the White House not wearing masks.

“We will not put our reporters at needless risk of getting a deadly disease — and neither should anyone else,” BuzzFeed Editor Mark Schoofs said in a Twitter post.

President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump, Trump aide Hope Hicks and White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany all have tested positive for Covid-19 since last Thursday, along with multiple other people connected to the White House and the president.

Three White House journalists also have been diagnosed with the coronavirus since last week.

BuzzFeed News deputy editor-in-chief Tom Namako, in his own Twitter post wrote: “The Trump administration aides working in the White House have largely not worn masks or adhered to basic precautions around the coronavirus, including in their contacts with the press.”

“The safety of our reporters is paramount,” Namako added.

The White House did not immediately return a request for comment.

The White House stakeout cam (POOL 5/NY rem 115) caught a group of ten or so (possibly more) mask staffers at the EEOB gathered in close quarters eating outdoors. Many of these staffers were not wearing masks.

Source: The White House

Goba told The New York Times, “Anyone that knows me understands I’d rather be at the White House working today … but at the same time, there are obvious concerns about working indoors during an outbreak.”

“I don’t want to be knocked out for the rest of the election because I’m sick,” Goba said.

The board of the White House Correspondents’ Association, in a statement issued Wednesday, said, “The WHCA has repeatedly pressed the White House at all levels to take steps to improve the safety conditions for journalists working there — and specifically to avoid knowingly putting in unnecessary jeopardy those serving in the pool who must be present as the eyes and ears of the American public.”

“At a bare minimum, that should entail following the administration’s own guidelines on protecting people from the spread of the virus,” the statement said.

The press group also said that since last Friday, “dozens and dozens of tests have been conducted on members of our press corps who were potentially exposed.”

“At this moment, we do not have any additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 among White House journalists nor any indications of journalist-to-journalist spread.”

This is breaking news. Check back for updates.

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