SEVERAL news outlets excluded from White House Press Secretary’s Briefing

February 25th, 2017 | by Sukumar Roy

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THE Press Secretary to the White House, the official residence and principal working place for the US President, barred several major media houses from an off-camera briefing on Friday. These were CNN, The New York Times, Politico, The Los Angeles Times and BuzzFeed as they reportedly remained critical of the President Donald J Trump since he had been campaigning for presidential election. Sean Spicer’s off-camera briefing, or “gaggle,” replaced the usual televised daily news briefing in the White House briefing room. He however did not spell out why those news organizations were not allowed in.

Spicer later said the White House plans to fight against what it says is unfair coverage.“I think we’re going to aggressively push back,” he said.“We’re just not going to sit back and let false narratives, false stories, inaccurate facts get out there, he added.”

London headquartered Reuters, international news agency, was included in the session, along with about 10 other news organisations, including Bloomberg and CBS.President Donald Trump has regularly attacked the media and at a gathering of conservative activists on Friday he criticised news organisations saying they are devoted provide “fake news” and said they are enemies of the American people as twisting  news is their mission. Spicer said his team decided to have a gaggle in his office on Friday instead of a full briefing in the larger White House briefing room and argued that “we don’t need to do everything on camera every day.”

Reporters at the Associated Press and Time magazine walked out of the briefing when hearing that others had been barred from the session, reports the Reuters. The White House often invites handpicked outlets 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 any query. A pool reporter from Hearst Newspapers was included in the gaggle on Friday and gave full details 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 protested.“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.

During the election campaign Trump’s team banned The Washington Post and BuzzFeed and some other news organisations from covering his campaign rallies .CNN posted a Twitter message 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. W won’t let these latest antics distract us from continuing to cover this administration fairly and aggressively.”

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