Media groups condemn White House for blocking them from press briefing
Some US news organizations have reacted angrily after the White House barred several news outlets from attending a press briefing on Friday, while some media groups refused to attend the briefing.
The bar came hours after US President Donald Trump delivered another attack on the media, saying some news organizations were spreading “fake news” and were the “enemy of the people.”
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the move was based on Trump’s displeasure with some media reports.
The US president has come under fire by news outlets for his controversial policies, particularly his executive orders and his advisors’ alleged contacts with Russia.
The New York Times, which was one of the news organizations excluded from the press briefing, said the move was a “petty decision” and “an unmistakable insult to democratic ideals.”
“Some presidents may have longed to punish particular news organizations or reporters, but aides have generally found ways to protect their bosses from such self-defeating moves, fearing that such vindictiveness would just make their bosses look small,” the Times said.
CNN anchor Jake Tapper also condemned the White House over the exclusion. ‘It’s not acceptable, in fact it’s petulant,’ he fumed. ‘And indicative of a lack of basic understanding of how an adult White House functions.’
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), which was also barred, criticized the move, asking the White House to clarify its exclusion.
Friday’s briefing had been scheduled as an on-camera event in the briefing room but was changed to an informal off-camera event.
CNN, the BBC, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Guardian, Buzzfeed, the Daily Mail and Politico were among those excluded. However, The Associated Press, USA Today and Time magazine refused to attend as a protest against the move.
The White House Correspondents Association protested the decision, saying it would discuss the matter with the administration.
National Press Club President Jeffrey Ballou said the “deeply disturbing” move “harkens back to the darkest chapters of US history and reeks of undemocratic, un-American and unconstitutional censorship.”
During a speech Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington, Trump renewed his harsh criticism of the media, describing the press as “fake news.”
“They (media) are the enemy of the people, because they have no sources. They just make ’em up when there are none,” he said.