White House press secretary Sean Spicer barred reporters from certain media outlets from participating in a scheduled press briefing Friday, WaPo reported.
The White House barred reporters from Politico, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Buzzfeed and CNN from a press breifing Friday, according to a report from The Washington Post. The Post’s executive editor, Marty Baron, called the move “appalling.”
It’s appalling and it’s unacceptable.
Reporters from Time and the Associated Press did not attend in protest of the barred reporters. The Wall Street Journal later tweeted that had their team realized the barring had happened, it would not have attended and vowed to boycott any future barrings of colleagues. Bloomberg’s editor-in-chief has made a similar pledge.
It is sad to report, however, that many of the staunch Trump supporters who claim to value the Constitution applauded the move.
The first ten amendments to the Constitution are collectively called The Bill of Rights, as many of you probably learned in middle school social studies classes. The Second Amendment is certainly well known to Republicans because it gives people the right to bear arms. The amendment that precedes it, however, establishes freedom of the press, among others.
An attack on one amendment of the Bill of Rights ought to be enough to raise concern with everyone, not just one side of the political spectrum.
And if you need a reason to be concerned beyond the obvious, you can consider the words of the very White House press secretary who’s accused of barring the reporters to begin with.
Sean Spicer participated in a panel discussion televised on C-SPAN back in December, after Donald Trump had been elected but before his inauguration as the 45th president. What’s fascinating is his response to a question of whether this very scenario could be expected from the Trump Administration.
Jake Sherman, of Politico, one of the groups banned on Friday, asked whether the practice of excluding reporters from White House briefings would happen since it had happened during the campaign.
Spicer said it would not:
“Look, there’s a big difference between a campaign where it is a private venue using private funds and a government entity, and 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. Conservative, liberal or otherwise, that’s what makes a democracy a democracy versus a dictatorship.”
Here’s the clip:
— Kenneth P. Vogel (@kenvogel) February 24, 2017
By Spicer’s line of reasoning in December, we now have headed toward that dictatorship he spoke of.
But wait, it gets worse.
Spicer reportedly claimed the action was taken because the White House won’t “sit still” and allow the press to create false facts.
Let’s think about the logic of that statement: the Trump White House, like every other, would prefer the media print stories that make it look good. But if Spicer’s plan is to punish reporters who don’t report correctly and truthfully what the Trump Administration is up to, he does so by keeping them out of the very room where he presumably can address those questions directly.
The news agencies he feels are getting the facts confused should be the first ones invited in, and he should address, point by point, the inaccuracies he feels exists.
When news agencies are prevented from a press briefing, how can the people who hold the press briefing realistically expect those news agencies to report the facts? They can’t. And I think most of us know that.