Just a few hours after Trump warned during his CPAC speech that "we're gonna do something about the media", he did just that after the White House barred a number of news outlets from covering Sean Spicer’s Q&A session on Friday afternoon. Spicer decided to hold an off-camera “gaggle” with reporters inside his West Wing office instead of the traditional on-camera briefing in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room according to press reports.
Among the outlets not permitted to cover the gaggle were various news organizations that Trump has singled out in the past including CNN, The NYT, The Hill, Politico, BuzzFeed, the Daily Mail, BBC, the Los Angeles Times and the New York Daily News.
Several non mainstream outlets were allowed into Spicer’s office, including Breitbart, the Washington Times and One America News Network. Several other major news organizations were also let in to cover the gaggle. That group included ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, Reuters and Bloomberg, however AP and Time have boycotted the event.
The White House Correspondents’ Association sharply criticized the decision.
“The WHCA board is protesting strongly against how today's gaggle is being handled by the White House,” Jeff Mason, the association’s president, said in a statement. “We encourage the organizations that were allowed in to share the material with others in the press corps who were not,” he added. “The board will be discussing this further with White House staff.”
The New York Times' Peter Bakersaid he "can't remember any press secretary from Clinton, Bush or Obama canceling briefing and handpicking small group for gaggle."
A White House spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
CNN's political reporter Sara Murray confirmed that CNN has been blocked from attending a White House press briefing this morning.
Today the White House is handpicking the news outlets they're allowing into the gaggle with @PressSec. CNN was blocked from attending.— Sara Murray (@SaraMurray) February 24, 2017
CNN, New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Politico shut out of White House gaggle with Sean Spicer today. WHCA protesting— Ram Ramgopal (@RamCNN) February 24, 2017
Looks like @BrianStelter was right when he pointed out Trump's comments today "we're gonna do something about the media" -- CNN just blocked— Jason Morrell (@CNNJason) February 24, 2017
Some boycotted the event due to CNN's treatment.
AP and Time boycotted the gaggle today because of the way it was handled.— Adrian Carrasquillo (@Carrasquillo) February 24, 2017
While some - including recently accredited - Breitbart were allowed in...
ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX were all allowed in. https://t.co/joYrhveGXQ— Sara Murray (@SaraMurray) February 24, 2017
Breitbart, Washington Times, One America Network got into the gaggle.— Adrian Carrasquillo (@Carrasquillo) February 24, 2017
This follows President Trump's earlier remarks At CPAC against fake news.
Here is Sean Spicer saying "You don't get to just yell out questions. We're going to raise our hands like big boys and girls."
This really just happened.— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) February 23, 2017
Spicer: "You don't get to just yell out questions. We're going to raise our hands like big boys and girls." pic.twitter.com/OAuf4y7pNp
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This move by The White House is in sharp contrast to what Spicer said in December (via HuffPo):
Sean Spicer, the senior communications advisor for Donald Trump’s presidential transition team and a leading candidate to become White House press secretary, said Thursday night that the incoming president would “absolutely not” kick out news organizations in response to critical coverage. This is an understandable fear given how the Trump campaign blacklisted nearly a dozen outlets through much of the election. In addition to denying some news organizations press credentials, the campaign sometimes placed unusual restrictions on journalists once inside. During an interview with Fox News host Megyn Kelly, Spicer said Trump would not “bounce” reporters from the briefing room and “has a healthy belief in the First Amendment.”
"So if the New York Times does a scathing editorial on President Trump, they’re still going to let the New York Times reporters in the press briefing room and have access just the same as all the other news organizations,” Kelly asked.
“They’re in the [press] pool right now and they still have scathing editorials and pretty poor reporting,” Spicer responded.
“So yes, the answer to my question is yes?” she continued.
“Yes,” Spicer said. “Absolutely.”
We now expect most if not all of the presidential press corps to boycott all future White House media events, as the war between Trump and the media goes nuclear.