Intensifying his attack on media, US President Donald Trump turned the power of White House to block several news organisations from covering an off-camera press briefing. The blockage seems an unprecedented development in modern era.
CNN, New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Politico, BuzzFeed, the BBC and the Guardian were excluded from the ‘gaggle’ or meeting that took place in White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s office on Friday. The move underscores the extent to which Trump and members of his inner circle are going to restrain those who scrutinize him. Trump has criticized news outlets critical of him as “fake news” organizations that publish anonymously sourced reports that reflect poorly on him.
The move has drawn flak from media outlets with several boycotting the meeting despite being invited. Reporters from The Associated Press, Time magazine and USA Today decided in the moment to boycott the briefing because of how it was handled.
“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.”
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.”
Politico editor-in-chief John Harris said that “selectively excluding news organizations from White House briefings is misguided.”
“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 continuing to cover this administration fairly and aggressively.” BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith said in a statement.
The Associated Press said it “believes the public should have as much access to the president as possible.”