Today, The White House blocked a number of news outlets from covering Sean Spicer’s question-and-answer session

Media outlets not permitted included CNN, The New York Times, The Hill, Politico, BuzzFeed, the Daily Mail, BBC, the Los Angeles Times and the New York Daily News

By Jordan Fabian – 02/24/17

This is how dictatorships get started people, by suppressing the free press. They can’t be allowed to get away with this.

Journalists from several right-leaning outlets were allowed into Spicer’s office, including Breitbart, the Washington Times and One America News Network.

A number of major news organizations were also let in to cover the gaggle. That group included ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, Reuters, Bloomberg and McClatchy.

Reporters from The Associated Press and Time magazine were allowed into the gaggle but refused to attend.

Media outlets not permitted included CNN, The New York Times, The Hill, Politico, BuzzFeed, the Daily Mail, BBC, the Los Angeles Times and the New York Daily News

Remember when Senator John McCain said that restricting the free press is how dictators get started? His exact words were: “They get started by suppressing the free press.” See the video below and hear him in his own words. That was only four (4) days ago!

The White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) sharply criticized the decision.

Jeff Mason, the association’s president, said in a statement:

“The WHCA board is protesting strongly against how today’s gaggle is being handled by the White House”

He added:

“We encourage the organizations that were allowed in to share the material with others in the press corps who were not . . . The board will be discussing this further with White House staff.”

Journalists then gathered in the briefing room to await the gaggle, When aides came to gather the pool, those who were not selected were turned back by Grisham in the West Wing hallway leading to Spicer’s office.

After some reporters voiced their frustrated with the arrangement, Grisham asked a uniformed Secret Service officer to tell them to leave the hallway.

It’s highly unusual for White House staff to hand-pick outlets to attend daily, on-the-record briefings with spokespeople, which are typically open for all reporters to attend.

The White House circulated an updated schedule Friday afternoon saying that Spicer would gaggle with an “expanded pool” of reporters instead of on-camera in the briefing room.

The press corps maintains an “in-house pool” of 21 reporters who cover events on the White House grounds when there is not enough space for the press group. There is also a smaller pool that travels with the president to events in Washington.

But the White House apparently decided to use different criteria in forming the group that attended Friday’s briefing.

The incident escalated Trump’s long-running feud with the media.

The president repeatedly slammed the ‘dishonest media’ earlier Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, while also saying he respects the First Amendment.

During the transition, Spicer himself also pledged to shake up the White House press corps once Trump took office.

He has adopted a number of changes to the daily briefing format, such as the use of “Skype seats” that allow reporters from outside Washington to ask questions. He also ended the practice of allowing The Associated Press to ask the first question, giving the privilege to a rotation of conservative outlets and some major newspapers.

In December, Spicer said barring media access is what a ‘dictatorship’ does. Today, he barred media access.

Spicer said:

“Look, there’s a big difference between a campaign where it is a private venue using private funds and a government entity . . . I think we have a respect for the press when it comes to the government. That is something you can’t ban an entity from.”

He continued:

“Conservative, liberal or otherwise . . . that’s what makes a democracy a democracy versus a dictatorship. I think there is a vastly different model when it comes to government and what should be expected, and that’s on both sides.”

On February 20, 2017, Republican Senator John McCain went on Meet the Press with Chuck Todd.

McCain said:

“That’s how dictators get started. They get started by suppressing the free press.”

Links to this story:

The Hill – White House hand-picks select media outlets for briefing

Washington Post – In December, Spicer said barring media access is what a ‘dictatorship’ does

#TrumpsAlternateUniverse #HoldHimAccountable #HoldTrumpAccountable