National Press Club leaders were outraged Friday after the White House kept certain news outlets out of press secretary Sean Spicer's question-and-answer session.
"I find it deeply disturbing and completely unacceptable that the White House is actively running a campaign against a constitutionally enshrined free and independent press," Press Club President Jeffrey Ballou wrote in a statement.
"The action harkens back to the darkest chapters of US history and reeks of undemocratic, un-American and unconstitutional censorship. The National Press Club supports our colleagues in the White House Correspondents Association in its protest and calls on the White House to reverse course."
National Press Club Journalism Institute President Barbara Cochran also slammed Spicer's decision and implored President Trump to "stop interfering" with the press’s attempts to its job.
“The president said, ‘No one loves’ the First Amendment ‘more than me.’ We call on the president and his staff to prove that and stop interfering with the ability of all news organizations to do their job of covering the White House," wrote Cochran.
CNN, The Hill, The New York Times, Politico, the Daily Mail, BuzzFeed, the BBC, the Los Angeles Times and the New York Daily News were among publications and outlets not permitted to attend Friday’s gaggle.
Reporters from several conservative outlets were allowed into Spicer’s office, including Breitbart News, The Washington Times and One America News Network.
ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, Reuters, Bloomberg and McClatchy were also allowed to attend.
Trump devoted considerable time to slamming the media during his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., earlier Friday.
"I want you all to know that we are fighting the fake news. It’s phony, fake,” Trump declared.
“I called the fake news the enemy of the people. They are the enemy of the people, because they have no sources. They just make them up when there are none.”
CNN said the administration's decision to hand-pick news outlets was "unacceptable."
New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet also criticized Spicer's decision.
“Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties,” Baquet said in a statement.
“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.”
The Associated Press and Time magazine, although invited to the gaggle, refused the offer in protest of the treatment of their colleagues.