White House forces reporters to ditch social distancing

NEW YORK (AP) – The White House abandoned social detachment for reporters who attended President Donald Trump's Rose Garden event on Friday because it "looks better," according to the advisor who ordered it.

Seats for reporters at recent White House events were separated by five feet to protect against the spread of the coronavirus. But just before Friday's event, Trump's advisers moved seats closer for reporters to sit side by side.

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The decision "unnecessarily puts reporters 'health at risk," said Jonathan Karl of ABC News, president of the White House Correspondents' Association.

"The health of the press should not be jeopardized, because the White House wants reporters to be a support for a" press conference "in which the president refused to answer any questions," said Karl .

White House spokesman Judd Deere said it was his decision to bring the seats closer.

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"It looks better," said Deere. "I would like to remind you that people in the (press) pool are tested, everyone is checked for temperature and asked if they have symptoms."

Trump noticed when he was on the podium and looked happy with the new seating arrangement.

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"I realized that you are starting to get a lot closer," said the president. "It looks much better, I must say."

Watching the event on television irritated her, CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen said later.

"This is outrageous," she said. “These chairs should be kept apart. There was no reason to bring them together, except that President Trump could wire a fake message. "

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