Ex-Bush spokesman: 'Media should calm down' on limited WH briefing

Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said Friday that "media should calm down" after the Trump White House blocked several news organizations from a question-and-answer session.

"Calm down everyone," Fleischer, who served as former President George W. Bush’s top spokesman, tweeted. He added that press secretaries should brief all reporters, but noted that the White House staff often meets with "who they want."

He also called on media to "stop hyperventilating" after The New York Times' top editor slammed the White House's decision to exclude multiple outlets, including the Times, from the off-camera press "gaggle."

White House press secretary Sean Spicer decided to hold the gaggle with reporters inside his West Wing office instead of the traditional on-camera media briefing inside the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room.


The Times’s executive editor Dean Baquet blasted the move, saying in a statement “nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history.”

"Free media access to a transparent government is obviously of crucial national importance," he said.


President Trump has repeatedly feuded with the Times, accusing its coverage of bias against him and his administration. Trump has also singled out BuzzFeed and CNN, two other outlets which were absent from Friday’s gaggle.

Other outlets barred from Friday's meeting included Politico, The Hill, the Daily Mail, the Los Angeles Times and the New York Daily News.

Spicer allowed journalists from several right-leaning outlets, including Breitbart, the Washington Times and One America News Network. Major news organizations present included Bloomberg, McClatchy, ABC News, CBS News and Fox News.

Reporters for The Associated Press and Time magazine were granted access but refused to attend the gaggle based on how it was handled.

Trump derided the media earlier Friday during his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, vowing his administration is battling “fake news.”

“I called the fake news the enemy of the people,” he told listeners at National Harbor, Md. "They are the enemy of the people because they have no sources.

“They just make them up when they are none. I’m not against the media. I’m not against the press. I’m against the people that make up stories and make up sources."

Jordan Fabian contributed