WASHINGTON Feb 24 The White House excluded
several major U.S. news organizations, including some it has
openly criticized, from an off-camera briefing held by the White
House press secretary on Friday, representatives of the
Reporters for CNN, The New York Times, Politico, The Los
Angeles Times and BuzzFeed were not allowed into the session in
the office of press secretary Sean Spicer.
Spicer's off-camera briefing, or "gaggle," replaced the
usual televised daily news briefing on Friday in the White House
briefing room. He did not say why those particular news
organizations were excluded, a decision which drew strong
Reuters was included in the session, along with about 10
other news organizations, including Bloomberg and CBS.
Spicer said his team decided to have a gaggle in his office
instead of a full briefing in the larger White House briefing
"Our job is to make sure that we're responsive to folks in
media. We want to make sure we answer your questions, but we
don't need to do everything on camera every day,” he said.
Off-camera gaggles are not unusual. The White House often
invites handpicked outlets in for briefings, typically for
specific topics. But briefings and gaggles in the White House
are usually open to all outlets and they are free to ask
A pool reporter from Hearst Newspapers was included in the
gaggle on Friday and was preparing a pool report for
distribution to the entire press corps. Media outlets allowed
into the gaggle also shared their audio with others.
Spicer's decision drew a sharp response from some of the
media outlets that were excluded.
"Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in
our long history of covering multiple administrations of
different parties," Dean Baquet, executive editor of The New
York Times, said 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."
The White House Correspondents Association, or WHCA, also
"The WHCA board is protesting strongly against how today's
gaggle is being handled by the White House," said Jeff Mason,
president of the association and a Reuters reporter.
President Donald Trump has regularly attacked the media,
sometimes singling out organizations and reporters for
“The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC,
@CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American
people!” Trump tweeted last week.
Some critics have said his attacks on news media endanger
During the election campaign last year, Trump's team banned
a few news organizations, including The Washington Post and
BuzzFeed, from covering his campaign rallies for a period of
time to protest their coverage.
CNN posted a Twitter message on Friday afternoon saying:
"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.”
Ben Smith, editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed News, said in a
statement: "While we strongly object to the White House's
apparent attempt to punish news outlets whose coverage it does
not like, we won't let these latest antics distract us from
continuing to cover this administration fairly and
(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh, Kieran
Murray and Jonathan Oatis)