On Friday, the White House blocked major news outlets, including CNN, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Politico and BuzzFeed from an informal press briefing, known popularly as a “gaggle,” in White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s office.
Administration spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the White House “had the pool there so everyone would be represented and get an update from us today.”
Normally, the gaggle includes a representative from one television network and one print outlet; on Friday, NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox News were invited and attended the meeting. Breitbart News, The Washington Times and One America News Network were also permitted to attend.
CNN responded, “This is an unacceptable development by the Trump White House. Apparently this is how they retaliate when you report facts they don’t like. We’ll keep reporting regardless.”
The White House Correspondents Association protested, saying:
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.”
The White House would not waver from its decision.
CNN reporters tried to attend, but an administration official informed them they weren’t invited. New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet wrote, “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 Associated Press and Time magazine boycotted the briefing as a result of the ban on certain organizations.
Bret Baier of Fox News tweeted his own protest:
Spicer was asked if the White House had blocked certain outlets because the White House disliked their reporting; he responded, “We had it as pool, and then we expanded it, and we added some folks to come cover it. It was my decision to expand the pool.”
On Thursday, White House advisor Stephen Bannon warned at CPAC:
[The press] are corporatist globalist media that are adamantly opposed to a economic nationalist agenda like Donald Trump has. Here’s where it’s going to get worse. He’s going to continue to press his agenda. And, as economic conditions get better, as more jobs get better, they’re going to continue to fight. If you think they’re going to give you their country back without a fight, you are sadly mistaken. Every day it is going to be a fight.