Earlier today, journalists from CNN and two other major outlets were banned from an off-camera White House press briefing held by Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
Reporters from CNN, The New York Times, Politico, BuzzFeed News and The Los Angeles Times were all prevented from entering Spicer’s West Wing office, having been turned away by the press secretary’s aides. Conservative outlets Breitbart News, The Washington Times and the One America News Network, meanwhile, were all allowed into the presser. CBS, The Wall Street Journal, ABC, Fox News and Bloomberg were also let inside.
The Associated Press and TIME, who were both allowed to be included in the gaggle, declined to attend in protest of the White House’s unprecedented banning of the other outlets.
Both CNN and The New York Times immediately released statements addressing their exclusion. CNN concisely stated, “This is an unacceptable development by the Trump White House. Apparently this is how they retaliate when you report facts they don’t like. We’ll keep reporting regardless.” Meanwhile, The New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet said in a statement:
Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties. 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.
And, finally, the White House Correspondent’s Association also rapidly denounced the Trump Administration’s actions with a statement of their own:
The W.H.C.A. board is protesting strongly against how today’s gaggle is being handled by the White House. 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.
Not much earlier, President Trump had spoken at the Conservative Political Action Conference where he openly attacked much of the media, echo his labeling them as “the enemy of the people.” The president criticized the press’ use of confidential sources, saying they “shouldn’t be allowed” to do so, in a display of his apparent fundamental misunderstanding of the American free press and journalism in general.