UPDATE: After we issued this statement, the White House reportedly backtracked on its decision. In response, our CEO Suzanne Nossel said:

“We’re glad the vice president has reversed the egregious ban on Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx from appearing on CNN in an attempt to force the network to air daily White House briefings in their entirety. Now the vice president should affirm that all government scientists are free to speak forthrightly to the public about COVID-19 without regard to politics.”


(New York, NY) – The vice president’s office is declining to make top public health officials available to CNN for interviews in an attempt to coerce the network to air the entirety of the president’s daily briefings. Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America, said the following:

“The White House’s attempt to swap access for coverage is a wanton act of coercion in defiance of press freedom. Politicians must not be allowed to dictate how the news is covered, period.  Using Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx as pawns in a campaign to force the coverage the White House denigrates these experts, silences their voices, and denies the American public access to information they need and deserve. This latest outrage is yet another reminder of why PEN America has sued to challenge the President’s threats and acts of retaliation against journalists and the media, and why a court is allowing our case to move forward.”

Read more about PEN America’s lawsuit against the president here.


PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

CONTACT: Stephen Fee, Director of Communications, [email protected], +1 202 309 8892