White House blocks news organizations from press briefing

Angry Donald Trump

CNN and other news outlets were blocked from attending an off-camera White House press briefing that other reporters were hand-picked to attend, raising alarm among media organizations and First Amendment watchdogs.

The decision struck veteran White House journalists as unprecedented in the modern era, and escalated tensions in the already fraught relationship between the Trump administration and the press.

The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Politico, BuzzFeed, the BBC and the Guardian were also among those excluded from the meeting, which was held in White House press secretary Sean Spicer office. The meeting, which is known as a gaggle, was held in lieu of the daily televised Q-and-A session in the White House briefing room.

When reporters from these news organizations tried to enter Spicer office for the gaggle, they were told they could not attend because they were not on the list of attendees.

In a brief statement defending the move, administration spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the White House had the pool there so everyone would be represented and get an update from us today.

The White House press pool usually includes representatives from one television outlet, one radio outlet and one print outlet, as well as reporters from a few wire services. In this case, four of the five major television networks — NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox News — were invited and attended the meeting, while only CNN was blocked.

And while The New York Times was kept out, conservative media organizations Breitbart News, The Washington Times and One America News Network were also allowed in.