By Mike Cavender, RTDNA Executive Director
Day 36 of the Donald Trump presidency will be remembered as the day Sean Spicer closed the daily briefing to cameras and told major news outlets like CNN, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and Politico they were not welcome, at least today.
Only hours before the briefing, normally carried live on cable networks from start to finish, Spicer’s boss, President Trump, again railed against the “dishonest” and “fake” press at the annual gathering of CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference. He repeated his charge that, as he calls it, “the fake news media” are “the enemy of the people” Coincidence?
It’s interesting to note that among those allowed to attend Spicer’s briefing today were some news organizations generally considered friendlier to Trump, such as Breitbart News and the Washington Times. On the other hand, CNN and the New York Times have often been direct targets of the President when he launches one of his media tirades. The White House Deputy Communications Director, Raj Shah downplayed what happened today, saying it was all much ado about nothing.
RTDNA disagrees and joins with the White House Correspondents Association and others who continue to call on President Trump and his team to understand the critical need to allow the news media to do its job without interference. Playing games like Spicer did today do no one any good and, most importantly, they deny the American people the opportunity to have access to information about their government.
Dean Baquet, the Executive Editor of the New York Times, said, “We strongly protest the exclusion of the New York Times and other news organizations. Free media access to a transparent government is obviously of crucial national interest.”
BuzzFeed editor in chief Ben Smith, whose outlet was also barred from attending today, said, “…we won’t let these latest antics distract us from covering this administration fairly and aggressively.”
The time may have come for solidarity among news organizations, as was shown during the early days of the Obama White House when an attempt was made to keep Fox News out of the room. If Spicer and Company decide to pull a stunt like this again, perhaps all news outlets should say, “We’ll pass too!”