Journalists from The New York Times and two other news organizations were prohibited from attending a briefing by President Trumpâ€™s press secretary on Friday, a highly unusual breach of relations between the White House and its press corps.
Reporters from The Times, CNN and Politico were not allowed to enter the West Wing office of the press secretary, Sean M. Spicer, for the scheduled briefing. Aides to Mr. Spicer allowed in reporters from only a handpicked group of news organizations that, the White House said, had been previously confirmed to attend.
Organizations allowed in included Breitbart News, the One America News Network and The Washington Times, all with conservative leanings. Journalists from ABC, CBS, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and Fox News also attended.
Reporters from Time magazine and The Associated Press, who were set to be allowed in to the briefing, chose not to attend in protest of the White Houseâ€™s actions.
No presidential administration has ever pulled anything remotely like this in U.S. history.
Trump claimed it was wrongly reported that heÂ called the media the â€œenemy of the peopleâ€ last week, saying heâ€™d actually called â€œfake newsâ€ the enemy. But he has branded such reputable media outlets as the The New York Times, CNN, NBC and others â€œfake news.â€
The president argued that the First Amendment gives him â€œthe right to criticize fake news and criticize it strongly.â€
â€œ[The media] say that we canâ€™t criticize their dishonest coverage because of the First Amendment,â€ Trump said.
â€œI love the First Amendment. Nobody loves it better than me,â€ he added.
Trump also said he thinks news outlets should not use anonymous sources, despite using them himself to make claims that have been proven false.
For the record, Trump really did appear to call out several media outlets as “enemies of the people”
â€” Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2017
Authoritarians always portray attacks on a free press as a sign of strength when in fact it’s sign of cowardice and weakness. Perhaps another way to put it is that weakness and strength have a particular meaning for free people. Fear of free people or violence against their mores is weakness. In our tradition if you fear free society, if you run to toadying sycophants to avoid being challenged, or demand followers toast your every action with superlatives, you’re a coward. You’re weak. You lack the strength to lead. This isn’t Russia. It’s not Horthy’s Hungary. This is America.
See also —
What else happened recently? This was reported yesterday.
White House chief of staff Reince Priebus asked a top FBI official to push back against news stories about contacts between Trump aides and Russians during the presidential campaign, Trump administration officials acknowledged Friday, drawing accusations from Democrats of improper interference into a pending investigation.
The story is that Priebus asked the FBI to publicly debunk a story about the Trump campaignâ€™s contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Priebus’s version of this is that the FBI contacted him to tell him the Russian-Trump campaign story is “garbage.” Of course, we have to take The Anagram’s word for that.
As many have pointed out, if someone connected to Hillary Clinton had been accused of asking the FBI to quash a story about alleged ties between her campaign and Russia, every committee in Congress would be holding hearings already.Â See also Charles Pierce.
Update: Turns out I am missing a chunk of the story. The story about Priebus asking the FBI to quash the story came out last night. Early this morning, the so-called president had a tweetfit about it.
â€œThe FBI is totally unable to stop the national security â€˜leakersâ€™ that have permeated our government for a long time,â€ Trump wrote on Twitter, breaking his message up into multiple posts. â€œThey can’t even find the leakers within the FBI itself. Classified information is being given to media that could have a devastating effect on U.S. FIND NOW.â€
So, basically, Priebus tries to “fix” the story with the FBI and was rebuffed, and several news outlets got wind of it and published this. Priebus makes up another story to cover his ass. But this morning the so-called president has a fit that blew earlier talking points out of the water. And the news outlets that did most of the reporting on the FBI story are blocked from the press briefing.