New York Times, CNN, BBC among media outlets barred from White House briefing

Journalists from the New York Times, CNN, the BBC and other media outlets say they were denied entry to a White House press briefing Friday.

'Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House,' Times executive editor writes

Reporters gather after failing to get access to an off-camera briefing with White House press secretary Sean Spicer. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

Journalists from the New York Times, CNN, the BBC and other media outlets say they were denied entry to a White House press briefing Friday.

Other outlets affected included the Los Angeles Times, Politico and BuzzFeed News.

The reporters were barred from the briefing in the office of White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

"Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties. 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," New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet said in a statement.

In a statement, CNN called the move "an unacceptable development by the Trump White House."

"Apparently this is how they retaliate when you report facts they don't like. We'll keep reporting regardless."

Last year, Buzzfeed — along with other media outlets like the Washington Post and Politico — were temporarily barred by the Trump camp from campaign rallies and events during the election.

Buzzfeed editor in chief Ben Smith in a statement described the White House snub as an "apparent attempt to punish news outlets whose coverage it does not like." 

Smith vowed Buzzfeed would continue to "cover this administration fairly and aggressively."

Prior to today's briefing snub, the BBC and the White House had sparred before — a Trump aide previously called the British public broadcaster "fake news" and the president made a dig at its North America editor during a press conference last week.

"Here's another beauty," Trump said as Jon Sopel stood to ask him a question.

BBC's Americas bureau chief Paul Danahar said in a statement the broadcaster has "sought clarification from the White House press team" and that it will remain "fair and impartial."

The White House Correspondents Association said it is "protesting strongly" over the handling of today's briefing and said in a statement, "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."

Organizations that were granted entry included Breitbart News, the Washington Times, Fox News, ABC, CBS and Bloomberg, according to the New York Times.

Reuters was included in the session and reported that Spicer said his team decided to have a "gaggle" in his office instead of a full briefing in the larger White House briefing room.

"Our job is to make sure that we're responsive to folks in media. We want to make sure we answer your questions, but we don't need to do everything on camera every day," he said.

Reuters' White House correspondent Jeff Mason is the president of the White House Correspondents Association.

White House deputy press secretary Stephanie Grisham told CBC News in an email that the administration decided to host a smaller group because Trump made a "large-scale speech at CPAC" earlier in the day, referring to the Conservative Political Action Committee.

"We actually just held a gaggle with an expanded pool, allowing more press in than usual for pooled events," said Grisham.

She said those in the gaggle "were able to distribute the information to their colleagues" who were not.

The Associated Press and Time magazine, which were granted entry, boycotted the event in protest. On Twitter, AP said it "believes the public should have as much access to the president as possible."

Earlier today, Trump attacked "fake news media or press" in a speech delivered to the CPAC, in Oxon Hill, Md.  He was also critical of the use of anonymous sources in news stories.

Trump had earlier referred to the "fake news media," such as the New York Times and CNN, in a tweet as the "enemy of the American people."

With files from Reuters