The war between US President Donald Trump and some section of the media took a new twist on Friday as the White House excluded some major US media outlets from a daily press briefing.
Some media outlets like CNN and New York Times, that have been critical of the Trump administration, were excluded from an off-camera event that replaced the traditional on-camera daily briefing.
Trump earlier decried the media as the “enemy of the people”.
Speaking at CPAC in the morning, President Trump said: “The media didn’t think we’d win. The pundits didn’t think we’d win. They all underestimated the power of the people.”
“Never underestimate the people,” added Trump, declaring that his administration is “fighting the fake news” and again calling the “fake news” media to be “the enemy of the people.”
A number of news outlets that regularly cover the White House as part of the “pool,” including newswires Reuters and Bloomberg attended the briefing.
An AFP report said The Associated Press boycotted in protest. AFP protested being excluded, despite being in the “pool,” and attended the briefing uninvited.
The White House Correspondents Association said it was “protesting strongly” against the White House decision.
“The board will be discussing this further with White House staff,” said president Jeff Mason.
During the off-camera briefing Sean Spicer defended its stance, saying the White House has shown an “abundance of accessibility.”
“We’ve actually gone above and beyond, with making ourselves, our team and our briefing room more accessible than probably any previous administration.”
According to AFP, it is not uncommon for Republican and Democratic administrations to brief select reporters, but the event was initially billed as a regular briefing which is open to any credentialed media.
At the Friday briefing, Spicer reportedly blasted CNN as “pathetic” for running a story about pressure on the FBI over alleged contacts with Russia that his team had spent hours explaining as wrong.
According to the Washington Examiner, a pool reporfrom the encounter reads:
Spokesman Sean Spicer had strong words for the media, particularly CNN, on the White House-FBI contacts story. ‘What you guys have done is indefensible and inaccurate,’ he said, quite heatedly. He pointed to TV chyron (new word for pooler) about White House asking FBI to deflate story. Spicer argued to reporters that asking what can be done when FBI says a story is BS was a natural human reaction. If Priebus had just walked away, ‘how insane would that be?’ Spicer said. He also said that if the WH put out a story that proved inaccurate, reporters would ask what steps WH is taking to set the record straight? But media won’t apply same logic in this case, which Spicer characterized as duplicitous. ‘What sane person would not want to set the record straight?’
Reince Priebus is White House Chief of Staff.
CNN had promoted a story Thursday and Friday that the White House pressured the FBI to challenge an earlier New York Times story on alleged calls between Russian intelligence officials and Trump’s campaign team.