Multiple news organizations were barred from attending a briefing with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Feb. 24. The obstruction signals an escalation of tension between President Donald Trump's administration and the American press.
The media outlets barred from Spicer's invitation-only press briefing included The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Politico, CNN, the BBC, BuzzFeed, the Daily Mail, The Hill and the New York Daily News.
The Associated Press and Time magazine chose not to attend the briefing, in support of the organizations that were barred, according to the New York Post.
In addition to Fox, CBS, ABC and NBC, many news outlets that cater to conservatives were invited, including Breitbart, The Washington Times and One America News Network.
The meeting took place off-camera inside Spicer's West Wing office, instead of the traditional James S. Brady Press Briefing Room.
It is not uncommon for White House press secretaries to hold briefings with expanded pools or to invite underrepresented news organizations, like conservative media outlets, to take part. But the selective invitation of conservative outlets, as well as the specific barring of reputable news organizations by the Trump administration, is unprecedented, according to Politico.
The White House Correspondents' Association responded to the protocol violation.
"The WHCA board is protesting strongly against how today's gaggle is being handled by the White House," WHCA President Jeff Mason said in a statement. "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."
New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet also reprimanded the White House's decision.
"Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties," 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."
Spicer's decision to exclude so many organizations came on the heels of Trump's latest speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, where he devoted one-quarter of his 48-minute speech to attacking the press, the New York Post reported.
"This is an unacceptable development by the Trump White House," CNN said in a statement. "Apparently this is how they retaliate when you report facts they don't like. We'll keep reporting regardless."