The Trump White House has shown fascist tendencies before, but this latest actions taken against the press is perhaps the most shocking and troubling yet. CNN, The New York Times, Politico, and BuzzFeed, among others, were all blocked from entering the White House earlier today, resulting in protests other media organizations and first amendment watchdogs. They were excluded from an informal press conference, called a “gaggle” held by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer. Never before has the White House barred some organizations from attending a press briefing, even the informal ones.
Sarah Sanders, who is a spokeswoman for the administration defended the move in a statement, saying the White House “had the pool there so everyone would be represented and get an update from us today.” The pool usually consists of one representative from each print or television network. In this case, only one of the five major television networks was denied entry. ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox News were all allowed in, while CNN, who Trump has a history of attacking, was not. Conservative media outlets Breitbart News, The Washington Times, and One America News Network were welcomed, while The New York Times was also barred.
“The Wall Street Journal strongly objects to the White House’s decision to bar certain media outlets from today’s gaggle” – Wall Street Journal Spokesperson
When asked whether the decision to block CNN and The New York Times was because the administration was unhappy with their reporting, Spicer dodged the question, saying he took the liberty of “expanding the pool.” Expansion does not equal exclusion, Mr. Spicer. Both CNN and The New York Times released statements opposing the White House’s decision. CNN said “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.”
Dean Baquet, executive editor of The New York Times, responded, “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.”