ABC News(WASHINGTON) — Since winning the election, President-elect Donald Trump has broken with tradition and traveled twice without his protective press pool. On one of them, he made waves by going to a Manhattan steakhouse without members of the media.
Why is this a topic of discussion and what does it signal for reporting on the next president?
Definition of a Protective Press Pool
A “protective press pool” is a group of journalists that travels wherever the president goes, reporting on behalf of a broader group of reporters; it is a press corps that’s always meant to be with the president — protectively, as its name suggests.
The pool typically includes two print reporters, one TV producer, one radio reporter, three wire service reporters, a cameraman and a few photographers. Journalists on pool duty report on a rotating basis and they share their notes with other members of the wider pool. For example, a TV producer from ABC News who is in the pool for that day will send reporting and footage to all five TV networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox News).
Over the course of this election’s primaries, only a handful of events on the campaign trail were pooled (retail stops at diners in New Hampshire, for instance). Once the two major party nominees emerged, a protective pool was set up to ensure Americans would have reports on the campaign happenings of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Why It Was Created?
Because of space concerns or security reasons, not all reporters wishing to cover the president may always be able to do so. Covering the president at all times might also be too costly for some news organizations.
According to the late White House reporter and author Helen Thomas in her book “Watchdogs of Democracy? The Waning Washington Press Corp and How It Has Failed the Public (2006),” the press pool was created under President Dwight Eisenhower, by White House press secretary James Hagerty.
What is the point of the pool?
The protective pool has played a crucial role over the course of history. When John Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, members of the protective pool had been traveling with the president and were able to quickly report on the situation. The protective pool also witnessed the 1981 assassination attempt of Ronald Reagan. And on 9/11, the protective pool with George W. Bush was able to report on how the president was reacting and the measures taken to keep him safe.
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