On Wednesday, things took an intense turn when the White House apparently banned a CNN reporter from a press event. On Thursday, in a segment on Wolf Blitzer's show about the White House's decision to block reporter Kaitlan Collins from the event, April Ryan suggested Melania Trump may have played a part in that decision. Collins, who reports on the White House for the network, was accused of "shouting" questions that were "inappropriate" on Wednesday.
In remarks to Blitzer on Wednesday, Collins defended herself saying, "I was blocked from attending an open press event here at the White House because the White House did not like the questions I posed to President Trump earlier in the day."
On Thursday, Ryan offered a theory that could explain why matters escalated between the press and the White House the day before. The veteran White House reporter said, "[Trump] also said that Mrs. Trump is watching CNN, so that all plays into this. I'm just saying. It's the truth."
Ryan's theory refers to New York Times' recently reporting that Melania was watching CNN on Air Force One, as opposed to Fox News, and that this left in a "rage." The communications team for Melania, however, has rejected the report as false. Later, the first lady's communications director Stephanie Grisham responded to CNN, "Seems kind of silly to worry about what channel she watches on TV (any channel she wants btw) or if she heard some recording on the news."
Grisham also said, "Did you know that every 15 minutes a baby is born with [neonatal abstinence syndrome]? Maybe you'd like to talk about the 160,000 kids who skip school every day for fear of being bullied, or that 280,000 students are physically attacked in schools every month."
The White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications, Bill Shine, was also a topic of discussion on Blitzer's panel. And Ryan did not mince words when she spoke of him. The CNN host played a clip of the White House official, alongside White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, as he asked the press pool whether the word "ban" had been used while referring to Collins. Shine kept repeating his question, peppering the reporters with "ask [Collins]" whether he had used the term, and left after telling everyone to "have a great day."
As he reacted to the video of Shine evading the reporters' questions, Blitzer said that the White House official's question was a "silly" one. And Ryan agreed. "Is she allowed in? No. They play these word games to try to insult our intelligence," Ryan said.
What seemed most troublesome to Ryan was how Collins was denied her right to speak as a journalist. "The bottom line is Kaitlan is not allowed in," she said. "I try not to be angry about this because I've been on this job for 21 years. We were together at the White House during the Clinton years ... When you bring the press into an open availability and the president is there, we are allowed to lob questions at the president." Reporters, Ryan said, aren't there to simply watch things happen.
As she wrapped up her comments on the White House fiasco, Ryan said, "You don't have to answer but do not think that we're not going to ask a question."