Trump’s apologists will find a way to blow this off, but those who see this administration as a potential threat to our Constitution and the First Amendment, in particular, will see it as another shot fired across the bow of free media.
On Friday afternoon, a number of media outlets were blocked from attending a question and answer session with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
Among those excluded were The Hill, CNN, Politico, the New York Times, Buzzfeed, and the BBC.
The move provoked media figures across the industry to speak out, in a show of unity.
CNN, which has been particularly targeted by President Trump in recent weeks, called the move “an unacceptable development ” in a statement, adding: “Apparently this is how they retaliate when you report facts they don’t like. We’ll keep reporting regardless.”
And they should.
New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet, whose publication was also left out Friday, said in a statement “nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history.”
“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 importance.”
That’s exactly the point I’ve made here on numerous occasions.
When you have a government that begins paring away one outlet after another, until all that’s left are the organizations that are complimentary to the administration, you get something that is the opposite of what our nation is supposed to be.
Bias or no bias, a free media keeps our government accountable to the people.
The president of the White House Correspondents’ Association also fiercely criticized the decision.
“The WHCA board is protesting strongly against how today’s gaggle is being handled by the White House,” Jeff Mason 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. The board will have a further discussion with White House staff.”
Some of the outlets that were handpicked to attend were One America News Network, the Washington Times, Bloomberg, Reuters, CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox News, and Breitbart.
Surprisingly, someone from Fox News, who acted as the official campaign headquarters of Trump during the election, and even now are his official state-run media base, was among those voices condemning the exclusion.
Some at CNN & NYT stood w/FOX News when the Obama admin attacked us & tried 2 exclude us-a WH gaggle should be open to all credentialed orgs https://t.co/8Vjcs0KCPR
— Bret Baier (@BretBaier) February 24, 2017
— Marty Baron (@PostBaron) February 24, 2017
And that’s very big of Baier, who, so far, has seemingly avoided whatever pod has enveloped the majority of Fox’s on air personalities.
Trump chose to continue his war on a free press while speaking at CPAC on Friday.
“I want you all to know that we are fighting the fake news,” he told listeners in National Harbor, Md. “It’s phony, it’s fake.”
“I called the fake news the enemy of the people. They are the enemy of the people, because they have no sources. They just make them up when there are none. I’m not against the media. I’m not against the press. I don’t mind bad stories if I deserved them. I’m against the people that make up stories and make up sources.”
Trump further called for sources to be revealed, openly, which on the surface may seem reasonable, but in reality, could cause some sources to refuse to come forward, for fear of reprisal from employers or the administration.
Friday’s snub of the select few was not a good thing. If you’re cheering for this, shame on you. We’re just a month in with this administration. We can just about assure that it will get so much worse before it gets better.
If the WH is blocking reporters from press briefings than the WH briefing model is dead. Better figure out a different way to cover the WH.
— Jack Mirkinson (@jackmirkinson) February 24, 2017