Trump's Media 'Enemies' Cordoned Off

CNN says it was banned from a White House briefing with press secretary Sean Spicer and is reporting the same went for the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Politico. The New YorkTimes and Politico confirmed online that they were not allowed to be part of the post-briefing gaggle.

President Donald Trump has said the mainstream media are the enemies of the American people, including taking particular aim at CNN, which he has called "very fake news," and the New York Times, which he has branded "failing" and disgraceful." He  repeated the “enemies” characterization at the conservative CPAC conference Friday. "We are fighting the fake news," he told CPAC. "They are the enemy of the people. They have no sources. They just make them up  when there are none." The President challenged the media to stop using unnamed sources.

CNN said Breitbart News (its former editor is a top Trump advisor), the Washington Times and One America News Network were allowed to participate in the off-camera briefing, as were other TV news outlets, CNN said.

"The WHCA board is protesting strongly against how today's gaggle is being handled by the White House," the White House Correspondents' Association said in a statement supplied to CNN. "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." 

“Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties,” said Dean Baquet, executive editor of the New York Times, in a statement. “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.”

Lynn Walsh, national president of the Society of Professional Journalists, suggested the move was out of line.

"Information coming from the White House Press Secretary should be expected to be on the record and open to all news organizations," she said. "The position, by title and purpose, is to share information with journalists and the public so insight and answers can be obtained from the White House and the President regarding policy, decisions and procedures."

She said that while President Obama and other presidents had allowed one-on-one access to some hand-picked reporters, but said that was different from "a Press Secretary not allowing specific news organizations access to a briefing meant for groups of journalists."

“President Trump's calls for an end to anonymous sources was alarming. It is not the job of political leaders to determine how journalists should conduct their work, and sets a terrible example for the rest of the world, where sources often must remain anonymous to preserve their own lives,” said Committee to Protect Journalists  Executive Director Joel Simon. “We are concerned by the decision to bar reporters from a press secretary briefing. The U.S. should be promoting press freedom and access to information.”

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.