White House Bans Reporters from CNN, NY Times, Politico, LA Times and BuzzFeed

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The White House blocked a number of news organizations from attending an informal briefing Friday, a rare and surprising move that came amid President Donald Trump’s escalating war against the media.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer banned reporters from CNN, the New York Times, Politico, the Los Angeles Times and BuzzFeed from attending a “gaggle,” a non-televised briefing, but gave access to a number of other reporters, including those representing conservative outlets.

The White House said the decision was not made to exclude journalists from organizations that have been the most critical of Trump in their reporting in favor of those who are more favorable. Although the invited included Fox News, Breitbart and the Washington Times – all considered sympathetic to the administration – the approved list also included CBS, NBC, ABC, the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Time and the Associated Press.

However, reporters from AP and Time decided against attending the briefing in protest of the exclusion of other news outlets.

The unusual ban came the same day that Trump, appearing at an annual gathering of conservatives, launched another round of complaints about the news media. Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Trump called reporters “dishonest” and “fake” and denounced the use of anonymous sources in reports about his administration.

While Trump made lambasting the media a regular feature of his presidential campaign – and banned about a dozen news organizations from covering his rallies – he seemed to ratchet up his rhetoric last week by tweeting that various news outlets were “the enemy of the American people.” He repeated that description on Friday in his speech at CPAC. And Late Friday night, Trump kept up his Twitter attack, writing: “FAKE NEWS media knowingly doesn’t tell the truth. A great danger to our country. The failing @nytimes has become a joke. Likewise @CNN. Sad!”

By late afternoon, amid widespread outrage among news organizations over the banning of reporters, the White House’s press office suggested that its action wasn’t exclusionary.

“We invited the pool so everyone was represented,” deputy press secretary Sarah Sanders wrote in an email. “We decided to add a couple of additional people beyond the pool for an expanded pool. Nothing more than that.”

The “pool” is a small group of reporters that provides notes and transcripts of meetings with officials to a wider group of journalists. Reporters representing radio, TV, print and wire-service outlets serve in the pool on a rotating basis.

It’s not unusual for the White House to handpick groups of reporters for some meetings. President Barack Obama, for example, invited select columnists to the White House for off-the-record conversations. It is unusual, if not unprecedented, to have a pool of reporters cover a publicly announced White House briefing.

But when Spicer and his deputies decided to expand the pool to include several hand-picked outlets, reporters from outside the group sought inclusion, too – and were denied.

Sanders did not explain why the White House picked the outlets it did and rejected the others.

The selected group included One America News Network, a small, conservative cable network that was founded in 2013 and has given favorable coverage to Trump. Among those excluded was CNN, which on Thursday broke the story of Priebus’s contacts with the FBI, and the New York Times, which first reported last week on alleged contacts between Trump’s campaign advisers and Russian officials. BuzzFeed, another excluded outlet, was the sole publisher of a 35-page dossier containing unproven allegations about Trump, including supposed compromising personal information.

Spicer’s move was almost immediately denounced by news organizations as unfair and a step toward throttling the press.

“It’s not acceptable,” CNN anchor Jake Tapper said on his afternoon program. “In fact, it’s petulant . . . This White House doesn’t seem to value a free press. There’s a word for this. The word is ‘un-American.’ ”

Dean Baquet, editor of the New York Times, protested the decision in a statement that read in part, “Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties. . . . Free media access to a transparent government is obviously of crucial national interest.”

National Press Club President Jeffrey Ballou said it was “deeply disturbing and completely unacceptable that the White House is actively running a campaign against a constitutionally enshrined free and independent press . . . The action harks back to the darkest chapters of U.S. history and reeks of undemocratic, un-American and unconstitutional censorship.”

But Ari Fleischer, who served as George W. Bush’s press secretary, said the media was overreacting. Trump, he said during an interview on CNN, has been highly accessible to reporters even as he has criticized them. “My point here is that the press has this tendency to think everything’s about themselves, to hyperventilate [that] the First Amendment’s under threat because of the things he says,” Fleischer said. “But then they ignore all the things he does that are tremendous for the media. He is making journalism interesting and great again.”

(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Paul Farhi 



  1. I think petulant is the way you describe the liberal media who won they are denied the ability to promote the trash the ability to promote their trash they cry foul and claim that it is against free speech. The only time this is acceptable is when Obama tears apart fox

  2. Trump cherishes a free press; the only thing is the term “press” usually denotes people who are reporting the news. CNN and all the other fake news outlets are an arm of the fringe left. Why should Mr. Trump allow his political enemies just another opportunity to slander him by either quoting him out of context, or slander him with baseless accusations. If and when they learn a slight bit of respect for the truth, I’m certain he’ll be happy to talk to them.

  3. Like I keep saying if the rotten Democrats I would like to have their crimes investigated and be punished accordingly then let’s do it I will see how smart they are

  4. Unbelievable. A free press is the right of a democratic country.

    This man Trump that so many elected is the trash of the entire century gold and all. He may be the biggest thing since the Bismark was given its berth.

    What a total sham and terror. Those are popular publications and by excluding them for their potential right to be assets to a changing world, Trump has made the careless angry citizen the most dangerous asset of this nation.

    This is a terror within an era of terror. We have no freedoms under hate of the liberty we must act to protect.

    • WOW!!! Anonymous-February 26, 2017 at 7:15 pm.

      Relax, breath, another breath, inhale now exhale slowly……Now take your meds. Don’t you feel better now?
      Let’s go back to the looney bin to get a nice nap.

      MAYZAV, where do these crackpots come from?


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