WASHINGTON (CBS/AP) — The White House prevented several prominent news organizations from attending an on the record White House press briefing on Friday.
The New York Times, CNN and Politico were not allowed to have reporters join the informal session, called a “gaggle,’ with Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
Several news organizations were allowed in, including the conservative website Breitbart News. The site’s former executive chairman, Steve Bannon, is chief strategist to President Donald Trump.
“Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties,” Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The Times, said in a statement.
“We strongly protest the exclusion of The New York Times and the other news organizations. Free media access to a transparent government is obviously of crucial national interest.”
The Associated Press chose not to participate.
CBS, NBC, Fox, ABC, One America News Network, The Wall Street Journal, McClatchy, Breitbart and Washington Times reporters attended.
The White House defended the decision.
“We invited the pool so everyone was represented. We decided to add a couple of additional people beyond the pool. Nothing more than that,” said White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders.
At the briefing, Spicer said the Trump Administration was accessible.
The pool is a smaller group of rotating reporters that typically cover the president for the rest of the media when a larger group of journalists isn’t practical. White House briefings are usually open to the larger White House press corps.
Earlier Friday in a speech before the Conservative Political Action Conference, President Donald Trump railed against the media.
The move also comes after news organizations reported on attempts by the White House to have the FBI refute stories that Trump operatives had been communicating with Russian officials during the presidential campaign.