White House Bans CNN, LA Times, NY Times and Politico From Press Conference
Posted on February 24, 2017
Journalists were shocked this morning when CNN, The L.A. Times, The New York Times, Politico and the BBC were banned from a White House news conference. No reason was given for the ban, which also included Buzzfeed and The Huffington Post. The conference was held in Sean Spicer's office in the West Wing. News outlets that were allowed to attend the gaggle included extremely conservative outlets such as Breitbart, The Washington Times and One American News Network.CNN White House correspondent Sarah Murray said she was blocked from entering because CNN was "not on the list" to enter the gaggle, which is an informal conference briefing without cameras. Upon learning that their fellow journalists were being banned, the AP and Time magazine refused to enter the room. Reporters from Fox News, Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal, ABC and CBS were allowed into the room. 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."
The Wall Street Journal said in a statement that it did not know about the exclusions and that "had we known at the time, we would not have participated, and we will not participate in such closed briefings in the future." The Washington Post didn't have a reporter at the White House when the gaggle happened. The newspaper wrote about the incident. The Post's Executive Editor Marty Baron issued this statement: "It's appalling that the White House would exclude news outlets like the New York Times, CNN, Politico, the Los Angeles Times, and BuzzFeed from its publicly announced briefings. This is an undemocratic path that the administration is traveling. There is nothing to be gained from the White House restricting the public’s access to information. We are currently evaluating what our response will be if this sort of thing happens again."
White House Correspondents' Association president Jeff Mason said in a statement, "The WHCA 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." He also called into CNN to express that the WHCA is extremely unhappy about the White House's actions towards journalists today.
The White House is now saying that it never intended to exclude the journalists, but no reputable journalist is buying it. This was a clear action intended to punish outlets that have been critical of the Trump administration and to cherry pick coverage. Fox News Chief Political Anchor Bret Baier tweeted support for his fellow journalists, writing, "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."
Here is the clip from CNN about the incident: