Society

White House Bars Several Media Outlets From Briefing

| by Robert Fowler

White House staffers barred several news outlets from joining press secretary Sean Spicer for an off-camera gathering inside the West Wing. Those prohibited from the briefing included a number of outlets that have been criticized by President Donald Trump for providing what he views as unfair coverage.

On Feb. 24, Spicer chose not to hold the conventional on-camera press briefing, electing instead a less formal gathering with reporters in his office, otherwise known as a "gaggle."

Reporters from several news outlets were turned away from attending the gaggle, among them the BBC, Buzzfeed News, CNN, The Hill, Los Angeles Times, New York Daily News and The New York Times.

The outlets allowed entry were ABC, Bloomberg, Breitbart, CBS News, Fox News, McClatchy, NBC News, One America News Network, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Times.

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Reporters from the Associated Press and Time Magazine were granted access, but refused to attend in solidarity with the outlets that had been barred.

Several reporters from the barred outlets disputed their lack of access with White House staff, and were instructed by security to leave.

The White House Correspondents' Association president Jeff Mason released a statement criticizing the White House's decision to block several outlets from attending the gaggle.

"The WHCA board is protesting strongly against how today's gaggle is being handled by the White House," Mason said. "We encourage the organizations that were allowed in to share the material with others in the press corps who were not. The board will be discussing this further with White House staff."

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Dean Baquet, executive editor of The New York Times, released his own statement blasting the blocking of his reporters and those from other outlets.

"Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties," Baquet said, according to The New York Times. "We strongly protest the exclusion of The New York Times and the other news organizations. Free media access to a transparent government is obviously of crucial national interest."

CNN also took issue, saying in their statement "Apparently this is how they retaliate when you report facts they don't like."

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders noted that the White House press pool had been invited to the gaggle.

"We invited the pool so everyone was represented," Sanders wrote in an email. "We decided to add a couple of additional people beyond the pool. Nothing more than that."

Trump has previously been critical of several of the outlets that were not granted admittance into the Spicer gaggle. On Feb. 17, he described them as enemies of the public, Business Insider reports.

"The FAKE NEWS media (failing [The New York Times], [NBC News], [ABC], [CBS], [CNN]) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American people!" Trump tweeted out.

On Feb. 24, Trump continued his criticism of the press during his address before the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland.

"I love the First Amendment... But as you say throughout the entire campaign, and even now, the fake news doesn't tell the truth," Trump said, according to The Hill. "I say it doesn't represent the people... and we're going to do something about it."

Sources: Business InsiderThe Hill, The New York Times / Photo Credit: Doug Mills/The New York Times

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