The usual daily press briefing didn’t happen on February 24. Instead, an untelevised briefing of a selected few media outlets took place at the White House.
It is clear CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin is working to hide her shock as she broke the news at 2:01 p.m., Friday afternoon.
“We have just learned here at CNN that CNN has been blocked from a White House gaggle,” Baldwin said in the breaking news report, as the block letters on the news ticker below her read ‘CNN & Others Blocked From White House Media Briefing.’
“This is so incredibly significant because this has never happened in this administration.”
A gaggle is an informal, on-the-record briefing. It is smaller than the normal press briefings, and instead is for the press pool: a group of reporters from various media outlets which pool resources to collect and then disseminate the news.
This, however, was no normal gaggle.
Sara Murray, a CNN White House Correspondent who was one of those excluded from the briefing, explained how Friday diverged from the norm. Usually a gaggle would include one person per media outlet, who would then share the information, Murray said.
“That is not what the White House was doing today,” she said. “What the White House was doing was hand-picking the outlets they wanted in for this briefing.”
CNN, Politico, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the BBC, the Guardian, USA Today and BuzzFeed were some of those outlets which were not allowed into the briefing.
Among those organizations allowed in?: NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox News, Breitbart News and One America News Network.
The restrictions caused the Associated Press and Time to boycott in protest.
Earlier that day at the Conservative Political Action Conference, President Trump made a point of criticizing media outlets, saying, “The fake news doesn’t tell the truth.” He continued, “It never will represent the people, and we’re gonna do something about it.”
That something, critics and First Amendment defenders are saying, was to exclude certain news outlets in a move that’s unprecedented.
The White House Correspondents Association said it is “protesting strongly.” CNN released a statement calling the move “unacceptable.” The Wall Street Journal announced it “strongly objects” to the decision. USA Today called it “rather unsettling.”
CNN anchor Jake Tapper summed up many people’s feelings when he called it “un-American.”
New York Times editor Dean Baquet said this: “Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties.”
Press Secretary Sean Spicer denied that outlets were not allowed entry, saying instead certain outlets were specifically invited.
“We don’t need to do an on-camera briefing every day,” Spicer said.
Many outlets released statements saying they will not let this move stop them from covering the news moving forward.