The Trump administration has had a strained relationship with the media ever since the president took office and likely even earlier. However, the administration made a surprising move when White House press secretary Sean Spicer blocked reporters from a number of media outlets from attending an informal, off-camera press briefing on Friday, Feb. 24.
Though the administration's battle against the media has been escalating of late, the move still came as a surprise to many especially since the media outlets that Spicer blocked from attending the press briefing are the ones that have been more critical of the administration.
An Unusual Decision
The decision to block media outlets including CNN, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, BuzzFeed, and Politico happened on the same day that President Donald Trump attended an annual conservatives' meeting where he launched into another tirade about the press, calling them dishonest and fake. Further, the president criticized the media for making up stories and using unnamed sources.
The list of media outlets that were allowed to attend the briefing included CBS, NBC, Bloomberg, Associated Press, and Time Magazine as well as Fox News, Washington Times, and Breitbart. The Associated Press, USA Today, and Time Magazine, however, did not attend the press briefing as a protest to the ban.
Bold Reactions To A Bold Move
It is said that members of the media were simply told that they could not attend the briefing because they were not on the list of attendees. Apart from the refusal of other media networks to attend the briefing despite being on the list, many were quick to boldly respond to the unprecedented decision.
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) February 25, 2017
The WHCA board is protesting strongly against how today's gaggle is being handled by the White House. We ... https://t.co/e6JkOOlwzQ — WHCA (@whca) February 24, 2017
— CNN Communications (@CNNPR) February 24, 2017
The White House denied that the decision was made based on which media outlets were more critical or sympathetic toward the administration but insisted that the move was made to expand the pool of reporters that would be getting an update for the said "gaggle."
Amid the bold reactions, Ari Fleischer, a White House press secretary in President George W. Bush's administration, stated that while the move was unwise, it was also not uncommon for aides to ban certain media outlets.
Many were quick to point out that it was Spicer himself who pointed out in 2016 that the media shouldn't be banned from press briefings. What's for certain, though, is that this move by Spicer is one that made yet another dent in the already-strained relationship between the administration and the media.