The White House Just Pulled A Frightening Move On The Press

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images.
In an unprecedented move, The White House selectively excluded certain media outlets from attending an off-camera briefing with press secretary Sean Spicer on Friday. Some of the outlets that were blocked included The New York Times, CNN, The Los Angeles Times, POLITICO, and the BBC. Most of these, particularly the Times and CNN, have had an openly contentious relationship with the Trump administration. President Trump has even coined a term for the Times, constantly referring to it on Twitter as "the failing New York Times." Earlier today he repeated his assertion that some media outlets are the "enemy" of the people during his appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

"They are very smart, they are very cunning, they are very dishonest," he said. "It doesn’t represent the people; it never will represent the people." Back at the White House, more conservative news outlets such as Breitbart News, The Washington Times, and One America News Network were permitted to attend the informal briefing, which is typically known as a press gaggle. All of them have reported favorably on the Trump administration. (Steve Bannon, the controversial White House chief strategist, used to be the chairman of Breitbart.) The Associated Press and Time were also invited, but refused to participate in the gaggle out of solidarity for the outlets who were blocked. Meanwhile the White House Correspondents Association condemned the move. "The WHCA board is protesting strongly against how today's gaggle is being handled by the White House,” WHCA president Jeff Mason said in 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." Last December, Spicer said that the White House wouldn't ban or limit access to the press.

"There's a big difference between a campaign, where it's a private venue using private funds, and a government entity," he said, referencing how the Trump campaign famously blocked several media outlets from their campaign events. He added, "That’s what makes a democracy a democracy versus a dictatorship."

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