The White House led by Donald Trump has blocked several major news outlets from covering its press briefing.
US President Donald Trump
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Friday hand selected news outlets to participate in an off-camera “gaggle” with reporters inside his West Wing office instead of the James S Brady Press Briefing Room.
The news outlets blocked from the press briefing include organisations who President Trump has criticised by name. CNN, BBC, The New York Times, LA Times, New York Daily News, BuzzFeed, The Hill, and the Daily Mail, were among the news outlets barred from the gathering.
Instead, the press secretary hand-picked news outlets including Breitbart News, One America News Network, The Washington Times, all news organisations with far-right leanings. Others major outlets approved included ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox News, Reuters and Bloomberg.
“Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties,” Dean Baquet, executive editor of The New York Times, 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.”
BuzzFeed’s editor-in-chief, Ben Smith, also responded to his outlet being barred from the briefing: “While we strongly object to the White House’s apparent attempt to punish news outlets whose coverage it does not like, we won’t let these latest antics distract us from the work of continuing to cover this administration fairly and aggressively.”
Several media outlets including the Associated Press and TIME Magazine declined to attend the briefing to boycott the President’s decision.
President Trump renewed his attacks on the media by again calling news outlets “the enemy of the people” at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington DC. “I’m against the people that make up stories and make up sources,” he told his audience. “They shouldn’t be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody’s name. Let their name be put out there.”
His comments come on the heel of reports that President Trump’s Chief of Staff Reince Priebus privately asked the FBI to prevent news stories of the Trump campaign’s communication with Russian intelligence.
Jeff Mason, the president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, said his organisation will protest strongly against the ban.
“The WHCA board is protesting strongly against how today’s gaggle is being handled by the White House,” he 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.”