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  1. Florida Politics

White House bars major news outlets from informal briefing

Published Feb. 25, 2017

News organizations including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, CNN and Politico were blocked from joining an informal, on-the-record White House press briefing Friday.

The Associated Press chose not to participate in the briefing after White House press secretary Sean Spicer restricted the number of journalists included. Typically, the daily briefing is televised and open to all news organizations credentialed to cover the White House.

"The AP believes the public should have as much access to the president as possible," Lauren Easton, the AP's director of media relations, said in a statement.

On Friday, hours after President Donald Trump delivered a speech blasting the media, Spicer invited only a pool of news organizations that represents and shares reporting with the larger press corps. He also invited several other major news outlets, as well as smaller organizations including the conservative Washington Times, One America News Network and Breitbart News, whose former executive chairman, Steve Bannon, is Trump's chief strategist. When the additional news organizations attempted to gain access, they weren't allowed to enter.

The White House said it felt "everyone was represented" by those in the pool and the invited organizations.

When asked by a reporter attending whether he was playing favorites, Spicer said the White House had "shown an abundance of accessibility," according to an audio recording of the briefing later circulated by the pool.

The pool included Reuters, Bloomberg, CBS, Hearst Newspapers and CBS Radio. Others in the briefing were Fox, NBC and ABC.

During a panel discussion last December, Spicer said that open access for the media is "what makes a democracy a democracy versus a dictatorship."

Reaction to Friday's events from the barred outlets and others was swift.

The Committee to Protect Journalists also condemned the move by the White House.

"The U.S. should be promoting press freedom and access to information," CPJ executive director Joel Simon said in a statement.

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