Reporters from several prominent news outlets, including The New York Times, BuzzFeed News, CNN, The Los Angeles Times and Politico, said on Feb. 24 that the White House blocked them from attending an informal press briefing.
Aides to White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer allowed in a few reporters who had been preapproved to enter the scheduled gaggle, reports The New York Times. In attendance were Breitbart News, the One America News Network, The Washington Times, ABC, CBS, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and Fox News.
"Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties," The New York Times' executive editor, Dean Baquet, said in a statement. "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."
Journalists from Time and The Associated Press were allowed entry but decided instead to boycott the event.
"The AP believes the public should have as much access to the president as possible," the AP's director of media relations said in a statement on Feb. 24, according to the Boston Globe.
President Donald Trump and his administration have spoken out against the mainstream media in the past. During a Feb. 24 speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Trump said that many top media outlets "make up stories and make up sources" and should be banned from citing anonymous sources for that reason.
"The fake news doesn’t tell the truth," Trump said. "It doesn't represent the people, it never will represent the people and we're going to do something about it. Many of these groups are part of large media corporations that have their own agenda."
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that the staff "invited the pool so everyone was represented" at the scheduled televised press event and then later "decided to add a couple of additional people beyond the pool. Nothing more than that," notes The New York Times.
Sources: The New York Times, Boston Globe (2) / Photo Credit: DFID - UK Department for International Development/Flickr