French media calls on Macron not to close palace press room

FILE - This Feb.19, 2018 file photo shows the Presidential press rom inside the Elysee Palace, in Paris. France's Presidential Press Association has called Tuesday Oct.23, 2018 on President Emmanuel Macron to reconsider his decision to close the press room inside the presidential palace, an action that comes as the French leader faces declining popularity. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, File)

PARIS (AP) — France’s Presidential Press Association has called on President Emmanuel Macron to reconsider his decision to close the press room inside the presidential palace.

In a statement Tuesday, the association that represents French and foreign media accredited with the presidency said the press room’s closure would be “a lockdown of the Elysee Palace and a decision prejudicial to journalists’ freedom to inform and to work.”

Macron’s office announced plans earlier this year to move journalists to a new site outside the palace with less access to presidential activity. He also recently revamped his communication strategy and team.

The Associated Press is one of the accredited news outlets that would be required to move out the presidential palace, along with other world news agencies.

A press room has been inside the Elysee for more than 40 years under presidents across the political spectrum.

Polls last month indicated Macron’s popularity reached a record low since his election in May 2017 amid growing criticism over his policies.

The French leader struggled for weeks amid a major scandal over his former security aide, who was identified in a video acting violently toward a protester while wearing police equipment.

Political rivals have criticized him for being arrogant and out of touch with the people. He told a young unemployed gardener last month he could find a job in a restaurant just by “crossing the street”, among other controversial comments.

The French leader has had a tense relationship with French media over press access to presidential events and visits since his election in May 2017.

Macron’s office has increasingly used Facebook, Twitter and other social media to spread his message instead of publicly answering media questions.

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