White House bars several news outlets from briefing
News organizations including The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, CNN and Politico were blocked from joining an informal, on-the-record White House press briefing on Friday.
The Associated Press chose not to participate after White House press secretary Sean Spicer restricted the number of journalists present for the briefing. Typically, the daily briefing is televised and open to all news organizations who have received approval to cover the White House.
“The AP believes the public should have as much access to the president as possible,” Lauren Easton, the AP’s director of media relations, said in a statement.
On Friday, hours after President Donald Trump delivered a speech blasting the media, Spicer invited only a pool of news organizations that represents and shares reporting with the larger press corps. He also invited several other major news outlets, as well as smaller organizations, including the conservative website Breitbart News, whose former executive chair, Steve Bannon, is Trump’s chief strategist. When additional news organizations that included The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, CNN and Politico attempted to gain access, they weren’t allowed to enter.
The White House said it felt “everyone was represented” by those in the pool and the invited organizations.
“We decided to add a couple of additional people beyond the pool. Nothing more than that,” said White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders.
When asked by a reporter whether he was playing f avourites, Spicer said the White House had “shown an abundance of accessibility,” according to an audio recording later circulated by the pool.
The pool was comprised of Reuters, Bloomberg, CBS, Hearst Newspapers and CBS Radio. Others in the news pool were Fox, NBC and ABC. Bloomberg reported that its reporter was unaware of the exclusions until after the pool briefing.
Spicer disagreed he was playing favourites. “We’ve brought more reporters into this process. And the idea that every time that every single person can’t get their question answered or fit in a room — that we’re excluding people. We’ve actually gone above and beyond with making ourselves, our team, and our briefing room more accessible than probably any prior administration. And so I think you can take that to the bank.”