A reporter from a Hong Kong outlet aligned with the Communist Party of China is a member of the White House Foreign Press Group and has rotating access to White House press briefings.
That is how the Phoenix TV reporter was able to push pro-Beijing talking points, touting Chinese aid to other countries, during the White House coronavirus task force’s press briefing on Monday. Her question prompted President Donald Trump to question if she was working for China.
China Wise International Limited, a subsidiary of a Chinese government-run bank, owns a minority stake in the media company, according to Phoenix TV’s 2018 interim report.
The Hoover Institution, a public policy think tank at Stanford University, describes Phoenix TV as a “quasi-official” news outlet with links to China’s Ministry of State Security.
Richard Latendresse, a Canadian journalist who serves as the White House Foreign Press Group’s secretary, told the Daily Caller News Foundation in an email that the Phoenix TV reporter is a member of the organization with rotating access to the foreign press’s seat for press briefings.
“The Phoenix TV reporter in question is a member of the White House Correspondents Association. As a result, she became a member of the White House Foreign Press Group because she not only is a member of the WHCA, but also has a ‘hard pass’ to be in the White House Briefing Room that was granted to her by the current administration,” Latendresse said.
“This reporter is therefore part of our regular rotation of members who have access to our seat during press briefings in the White House,” he added. “There are usually about two dozen of our members who have access to that one seat. During this time of social distancing, only nine are opting to physically attend the briefings.”
The White House declined to comment on whether it would revoke the Phoenix TV reporter’s hard press pass. The Trump administration has previously been sued for revoking White House press passes.
Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz on Wednesday said it’s “disgraceful and reckless” that Phoenix TV is allowed into the press briefings amid China’s propaganda campaign meant to absolve itself of responsibility for the virus’s outbreak.
The Hong Kong-based outlet is owned by a former Chinese military officer with close ties to Beijing officials, pro-democracy think tank Freedom House said in a 2017 report.
“Phoenix TV’s coverage is typically favorable to the CCP [Chinese Communist Party],” the report said.
“Moreover, over the past two years, it has been used as an outlet for airing televised confessions by various detained CCP critics, most notably all five Hong Kong booksellers abducted by Chinese security forces in late 2015.”
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Image: U.S. President Donald Trump takes questions as he addresses the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 7, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque