Multiple news outlets barred from White House briefing

25/02/2017

The US always tells the world about the freedom of speech or the freedom of press, they set their standard as international standard and forced other nations to follow. However, the freedom of press in the US is always a big question in the relation between the media and the White House.

The White House blocked a number of news organizations from attending an informal briefing Friday, a rare and surprising move that came amid President Trump’s escalating war against the media.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer banned reporters from CNN, the New York Times, Politico, the Los Angeles Times and BuzzFeed from attending a “gaggle,” a non-televised briefing, but gave access to a number of other reporters, including those representing conservative outlets.

The White House said the decision was not made to exclude journalists from organizations that have been the most critical of Trump in their reporting in favor of those who are more favorable. Although the invited included Fox News, Breitbart and the Washington Times — all considered sympathetic to the administration — the approved list also included CBS, NBC, ABC, the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Time and the Associated Press.

However, reporters from AP and Time decided against attending the briefing in protest of the exclusion of other news outlets.

The unusual ban came the same day that Trump, appearing at an annual gathering of conservatives, launched another round of complaints about the news media. Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Trump called reporters “dishonest” and “fake” and denounced the use of anonymous sources in reports about his administration.

Spicer’s move was almost immediately denounced by news organizations as unfair and a step toward throttling the press.

“It’s not acceptable,” CNN anchor Jake Tapper said on his afternoon program. “In fact, it’s petulant … This White House doesn’t seem to value a free press. There’s a word for this. The word is ‘un-American.’”

Dean Baquet, editor of the New York Times, protested the decision in a statement that read in part, “Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties. . . . Free media access to a transparent government is obviously of crucial national interest.”

The Washington Post did not have a reporter present at the time of the gaggle. However, Executive Editor Martin Baron said it was “appalling” that other journalists were blocked.

“This is an undemocratic path that the administration is traveling,” Baron said. “There is nothing to be gained from the White House restricting the public’s access to information. We are currently evaluating what our response will be if this sort of thing happens again.”

National Press Club President Jeffrey Ballou said it was “deeply disturbing and completely unacceptable that the White House is actively running a campaign against a constitutionally enshrined free and independent press … The action harks back to the darkest chapters of U.S. history and reeks of undemocratic, un-American and unconstitutional censorship.”


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