On Friday White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer held an informal “gaggle” press briefing but made a point of excluding certain news outlets. The White House’s decision has drawn ire even from news organizations that were included, such as Fox News and The Wall Street Journal:
“Some at CNN and New York Times stood with Fox News when the Obama admin attacked us and tried to exclude us,” said anchor Bret Bair via Twitter, “a White House gaggle should be open to all credentialed orgs.”
“The Wall Street Journal strongly objects to the White House’s decision to bar certain media outlets from today’s gaggle,” added a representative for the newspaper. “Had we known at the time, we would not have participated and we will not participate in such closed briefings in the future.”
The New York Times and CNN, as well as the BBC, The New York Daily News, The LA Times, BuzzFeed, The Hill, and The Daily Mail, were all barred from attending the meeting, while Reuters, NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox News, Bloomberg, and the heavily conservative news outlets Breitbart News, One America News Network and The Washington Times were admitted. Time, the Associated Press and some other outlets were invited to the briefing but boycotted.
“While we strongly object to the White House’s apparent attempt to punish news outlets whose coverage it does not like,” said Buzzfeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith, “we won’t let these latest antics distract us from the work of continuing to cover this administration fairly and aggressively.”
BBC bureau chief Paul Denahar was more formal: “We understand there may be occasions when, due to space or circumstances, the White House restricts press events to the established pool. However, what happened today did not fit into that pattern. On this occasion selected media were allowed to attend the briefing and the selected media, including the BBC, were not.”
The meeting took place in Spicer’s office rather than the usual briefing room.
Donald Trump has claimed the mainstream media has portrayed the first month of his presidency unfairly, calling some of their reports “fake news” and “enemy of the people” and insisted that they refrain from using anonymous sources. “I’m against the people that make up stories and make up sources,” he told the Conservative Political Action Committee in Washington D.C.
“President Trump’s calls for an end to anonymous sources was alarming. It is not the job of political leaders to determine how journalists should conduct their work, and sets a terrible example for the rest of the world, where sources often must remain anonymous to preserve their own lives,” wrote Joel Simon of the Committee to Protect Journalists.