“We are concerned both with the rhetoric directed at the media in this campaign and the level of press access to the candidates. Both Clinton and Trump can do better,” outgoing WHCA president Carol Lee and incoming president Jeff Mason write in a co-authored column.
The WHCA serves as an advocate for hundreds of members of the White House press corps in negotiating with administrations and how they provide access to the president. Their advocacy also extends to presidential candidates and their campaigns.
“The public’s right to know is infringed if certain reporters are banned from a candidate's events because the candidate doesn’t like a story they have written or broadcast, as Donald Trump has done,” the op-ed reads.
“Similarly, refusing to regularly answer questions from reporters in a press conference, as Hillary Clinton has, deprives the American people of hearing from their potential commander-in-chief in a format that is critical to ensuring he or she is accountable for policy positions and official acts,” it continues.
The op-ed concludes by warning that that a free press could be at risk with either of the major candidates in the Oval Office.
“The United States will not have a free press if its president gets to choose which journalists and which media organizations are allowed access to the executive branch,” the op-ed reads. “We will not have a truly free press and an informed electorate if the president doesn’t believe he or she should be held accountable to inquiries from the media.”
The WHCA has previously expressed its concerns over violence at campaign rallies, and made its first specific condemnation of the Trump campaign following the announcement it would ban the Washington Post from its rallies in mid-June. Trump stated soon after that his tactic of banning reporters he disapproves of would not follow him to the White House, where reporters have their own press wing.
ABC News' request for comment from both the Trump and Clinton campaigns has not received an immediate response.