As reporters were getting settled ahead of Friday’s briefing, the Fox correspondent Jon Decker pointed out that a reporter from Gateway Pundit, Lucian Wintrich, was in the room and that they “hate blacks, Jews, Hispanics,” according to BuzzFeed White House correspondent Adrian Carrasquillo, who tweeted about the incident.
Decker also sent an email to the entire White House reporter email listserv, noting that the White House “has admitted Gateway Pundit into today’s White House Press Briefing.”
While some in the White House briefing room say the White House should be open to any and all outlets, others have expressed concern with certain outlets being legitimized via their White House credentials.
Fox News confirmed Decker was reacting to previous tweets Wintrich had posted. According to a White House Correspondent in the room, several reporters shook Decker’s hands as he walked back to the Fox News radio booth.
“Props to Jon Decker for speaking up in the press room. It would be much harder for a minority reporter to speak up like he did,” the correspondent said. “As a member of the WHCA board and as a white man him standing up and saying that meant a lot to reporters in the room.”
Shortly after the interaction, Gateway Pundit published a post claiming that Decker grabbed Wintrich’s arm, assaulted him and shouted that he was a Nazi and that The Gateway Pundit “is a white supremacist publication.” Decker and Fox News deny that any sort of assault occurred. Another White House correspondent who witnessed the incident said no physical altercation occurred.
“Earlier today I had a conversation with a representative from the online publication Gateway Pundit,” Decker said in a statement. “The conversation was straightforward and direct. I also informed the full White House pool that this representative was present in the Briefing Room. At no time did I accost or assault this individual. More than a dozen witnesses will attest to this fact.”
Gateway Pundit, a pro-Donald Trump conservative blog known for at times posting false rumors, gained notice earlier this year when they announced they would be appointing a White House correspondent with official White House press credentials. While there are several interesting characters and self-described reporters who appear daily in the briefing room, the Gateway Pundit’s inclusion has rankled some White House reporters who see them as an inappropriate addition to the briefing room.
“‘Telling the truth’ is not, by any objective measure, what the Gateway Pundit does. If you have a conspiracy theory or a hoax you want to spread, Hoft is your guy,” Callum Borchers wrote in the Washington Post in January.
Wintrich often posts memes and symbols related to the ‘alt-right’ and some white supremacist groups. He has made and tweeted certain controversial statements, such as a tweet stating that “Women’s suffrage was one of the country’s greatest disasters”, and directly targeted other writers, including at one point posting and then deleting a Mic.com writer’s personal information.
The site, Gateway Pundit, is known for posting questionable stories at times, such as some stories about Hillary Clinton’s health during the election and falsely accused a Washington Post editor of photographing written notes of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during a confirmation hearing. The journalist, who was not at the briefing, was harassed online and via phone as a result. (Gateway Pundit eventually updated their post).