The White House barred multiple news organizations from attending a press briefing on Friday in a move the New York Times called a “highly unusual breach of relations between the White House and its press corps.”
Press secretary Sean Spicer prohibited members of The New York Times, CNN and Politico from entering the West Wing as well as The Hill, Politico, BuzzFeed, the Daily Mail, BBC, the LA Times and the New York Daily News, the New York Post reported.
Time and The Associated Press boycotted the briefing in a show of solidarity, according to reports.
Fox, CBS, ABC, NBC and Hearst were invited to the selective meeting, all typical members of the press “pool.” In addition, The Wall Street Journal, McClatchy, Breitbart, The Washington Times and One America News Network, media outlets that cater to a conservative audience, were invited.
"We invited the pool so everyone was represented,” White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said, Politico reported. “We decided to add a couple of additional people beyond the pool. Nothing more than that.”
“It was clear that they let in a lot of news outlets with less reach who are Trump-friendly,” Noah Bierman, a barred White House reporter for The Los Angeles Times, said. “They let in almost every network but CNN. That’s concerning, the handpicking aspect of it.”
Reporters held out of today's White House briefing. pic.twitter.com/8uqelMjrtp— Noah Bierman (@Noahbierman) February 24, 2017
Davan Maharaj, editor of the LA Times,saidin a statement, "Regardless of access, The Times will continue to report on the Trump administration without fear or favor.”
Rather than holding an on-camera conference in the usual briefing room, the off-camera, restricted “gaggle” – briefing in which reporters are allowed to ask questions on the record – was held in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room. Due to the “pool,” the information in the meeting was shared between media outlets.
And they would be wrong. Which is par for the course for you https://t.co/Ztp0UOcCiU— Sean Spicer (@seanspicer) February 12, 2017
“Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties,” Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The Times,saidin 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.”
Fox News anchor Bret Baier tweeted: “Some at CNN & NYT stood w/FOX News when the Obama admin attacked us & tried 2 exclude us-a WH gaggle should be open to all credentialed orgs.”
Some at CNN & NYT stood w/FOX News when the Obama admin attacked us & tried 2 exclude us-a WH gaggle should be open to all credentialed orgs https://t.co/8Vjcs0KCPR— Bret Baier (@BretBaier) February 24, 2017
The White House Correspondents’ Association, which represents the press corps, quickly rebuked the White House’s actions.
“The W.H.C.A. board is protesting strongly against how today’s gaggle is being handled by the White House,” the association president, Jeff Mason,saidin 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.”
On Jan. 15, the associationreportedthat it had met with Spicer and “Sean agreed to discuss any additional changes that the incoming administration considers with the WHCA ahead of time.”
The White House move to block access came hours after Trump bashed the news media for 12 minutes during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, whichThe Washington Post fact-checked.
“The president spoke today. As you know, we don't generally do, we haven't done briefings when the president's had a major event or an event with a world leader,” Spicer said, Politico reported. “We put it on the schedule yesterday that we were just going to gaggle, and I mean this is something that we talked about with the correspondents’ association, about making sure that we have daily contact with you guys.
“You know, obviously the president gave a very powerful speech today and our job is to make sure that we're responsive to folks in the media. We're here all day. We've got a big staff and we want to make sure we answer your questions. We don't need to do everything on camera every day.”