WASHINGTON — The White House stepped up its attacks on the news media Friday, barring several top news organizations from a press briefing after President Donald Trump complained about critical coverage as “fake news” by “dishonest” reporters.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer did not allow CNN, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Politico, BuzzFeed News, the BBC and the Guardian to be in a smaller-than-usual afternoon briefing, prompting The Associated Press and Time magazine to skip the event.
Dean Baquet, The New York Times’ executive editor, and Jeff Mason, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, each issued statements to strongly protest the unprecedented exclusion. CNN host Jake Tapper said, “It’s not acceptable.”
In his morning speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference, Trump warned supporters that large media corporations “have their own agenda, and it’s not your agenda and it’s not the country’s agenda. It’s their own agenda.”
He added, “I say it doesn’t represent the people, it never will represent the people, and we’re going to do something about it.”
Nearly every speaker at the meeting at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Oxon Hill, Maryland, near Washington, D.C., attacked the news media. Trump senior adviser Steve Bannon called it “the opposition.”
Trump complained about The Washington Post, without naming it, for a story saying nine unnamed current and former officials said an FBI investigation found multiple contacts between Trump’s campaign and aides and Russian officials last year.
“They shouldn’t be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody’s name,” Trump said. A short time before, his press office gave a background briefing to reporters on the condition that the officials who spoke not be named.
The Post has not backed away from its story.
A White House press aide, in an email requesting not be to be named, said, “No one was barred from any briefing today. It was an expanded pool gaggle so we actually allowed more press in than the usual pooled events.”
Each day, a pool of about a dozen print, wire and broadcast reporters and photographers follows the president and shares reporting with all other reporters. Spicer said he decided to add a few more news outlets to the pool briefing.
But Spicer acknowledged White House officials are upset about stories by CNN and The Times.
“We’re going to aggressively push back. We’re not just going to sit back and let false narratives and false stories get out there,” Spicer said.