The executive editor of The New York Times blasted a decision by White House press secretary Sean SpicerSean Michael SpicerBiden administration competency doubts increase Overnight Defense & National Security — Iron Dome funding clears House Sean Spicer, Russ Vought sue Biden over Naval Board removal MORE to exclude the newspaper and other media organizations from a question-and-answer session on Friday.
“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.”
Spicer decided not to hold his usual daily press briefing on Friday, opting instead for a small off-camera “gaggle” in his office. But several news outlets — including The Hill, Politico and CNN, among others — were barred from attending the session.
Several right-leaning news outlets, such as Breitbart and the Washington Times, were allowed into his office along with major news organizations such as NBC, CBS and ABC. The Associated Press and Time magazine were invited to the gaggle, but declined to attend in protest.
The move to block certain organizations from the session drew backlash across the media world, as journalists and news outlets condemned it as an attack on government transparency and a free press.
"This is 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," CNN wrote on Twitter.
The White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA), the independent group that handles press credentials for White House reporters, delivered a rebuke of the exclusions, announcing it was protesting Spicer’s decision.
“The WHCA board is protesting strongly against how today's gaggle is being handled by the White House,” Jeff Mason, the association’s president, said in a statement.
Trump has long had an adversarial relationship with the press, often calling stories he deems unfavorable “fake news.” As a presidential candidate, the real estate mogul also said he wanted to “open up” libel laws to make it easier to sue journalists and news organizations.