By Bonnie K. Goodman
The Trump White House is taking their war with the new media to a new level. Press Secretary Sean Spicer handpicked on Friday, Feb. 24, 2017, which media outlets would be included in a small press gaggle in his office. At the same time, Spicer excluded some of the outlets most critical of President Donald Trump, a slight he blames on space constraints rather than intentionally blocking freedom of the press. Despite Spicer’s explanation, there was an outcry from the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) accusing the White House of trying to limit the press.
With the president attending Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), instead of holding the daily press briefing the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room, Spicer decided on a smaller press gaggle with only a select number of media outlets. The press briefing usually consists of around 49 reporters, which is what the briefing room accommodates. The smaller gaggle caused an outrage because of the president’s recent war with the media and certain outlets, which many deem as an attack on freedom of speech and the press.
The conservative media including the Washington Times, One America News Network and Breitbart News, who favorably cover the president were invited. Additionally, ABC, CBS, Fox News and NBC, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg were also invited to the gaggle. The Associated Press and Time were both invited but declined after hearing that The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Politico and CNN were excluded; these sources are the most critical of the press and are among the outlets Trump singles out for their coverage.
Spicer explained that the media outlets were excluded because of space constraints, the gaggle was originally only to consist of six sources, but as Spicer indicated, “Because we had a pool and then we expanded it. And we added some folks to come cover it.” Continuing the press secretary pointed out, “I understand that there are way more than six that wanted to come in. We started with the pool and we expanded it. I think we’ve gone above and beyond when it comes to accessibility and openness and getting folks, our officials our team, and so respectfully I disagree with the premise of the question.”
The White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) condemned the media’s exclusions.
Board member Jeff Mason issued a statement, saying, “The WHCA board is protesting strongly against how [Friday’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.”
Source: ABC News Radio Online