The Trump press corps prepares for a new era

As the Trump administration ends, and the Biden administration begins, major news networks and outlets are shaking up their White House reporting staff.

At the New York Times, Maggie Haberman will be stepping down from her role as White House correspondent to write a book about the Trump presidency. She will continue covering politics. The Washington Post announced yesterday that Ashley Parker, who covered the Trump administration closely, will become the paper’s new White House bureau chief, replacing Philip Rucker. And at CNN, Kaitlan Collins will be replacing Jim Acosta as chief White House correspondent. Acosta will become the network’s chief domestic correspondent. ABC, CBS, NPR, and others have also shuffled their staffs.  

At PBS’s NewsHour, White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor, producer Meredith Lee, and anchor and managing editor Judy Woodruff will remain in position for the Biden administration. “It would be great to be able to take a vacation and go out, but we’re living in the middle of a pandemic,” says Alcindor.

Reflecting on the past four years, Alcindor said she felt particularly proud of a November 2018 exchange in which she asked Trump whether he was emboldening white supremacists. Trump called the question racist. “It was a question that revealed where the president stood,” she says. 

“I think the Trump presidency really revealed that journalism is a core part of our society and a critically important part of our democracy,” Alcindor said. “If we don’t embrace journalism in a way that’s fearless, and in a way that is blunt, and in a way that pushes this country to really look at itself fully, then we’re not doing it right.”

She hopes that covering the Biden administration will provide the opportunity to focus less on the president’s behavior and more on policy. “We were all kind of drinking out of a firehose, trying to process all of the different things that were happening,” Alcindor says of the past four years. The challenge, she says, is to address “the different aspects of our society that we just haven’t spent time delving into, because we were instead focused on sort of reality TV, and rhetoric, and rallies.”

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Ian W. Karbal is a CJR fellow.