White House bars 5 media outlets from Friday press briefing

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CNN and other news organizations were blocked Friday from a White House press briefing. There was no immediate explanation from the White House.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – It wasn’t a formal, televised media briefing, but the White House’s decision to block several media outlets from a press briefing Friday sent shockwaves through the media.

The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Politico, Buzzfeed and CNN were excluded from the media gaggle, a less formal Q-and-A session for reporters. White House press secretary Sean Spicer conducted the gaggle.

In a statement, the White House defended the move, saying the press pool was present, meaning everyone would be represented and get the information from the briefing.

The pool typically includes a representative from one television network and one print outlet. In this case, four of the major networks (NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox News) attended the meeting while CNN was left out.

And while the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Politico and Buzzfeed were also blocked, Breitbart, The Washington Times and One America, all conservative news outlets, were allowed to attend.

The timing of the move was curious, given President Donald Trump’s speech during the Conservative Political Action Conference, in which he blasted the mainstream media as “fake news.” He called the media “the enemy of the people.”

The Associated Press and Time magazine boycotted the press briefing after the five media outlets were banned. The White House Correspondents Association protested the move as well.

The Wall Street Journal, which participated in the briefing, said it didn’t know about the exclusions and wouldn’t have taken part if it had known otherwise.

CNN released a statement calling the situation “unacceptable.”

“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,” CNN said in the statement.

New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet also issued a statement about the extraordinary move.

“Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of cover multiple administrations of different parties,” Baquet wrote. “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.”

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