News that CNN, The Washington Post, the BBC, The New York Times, and Politico were excluded from a press briefing in Sean Spicer’s office yesterday smacks of petty retaliation. To be clear, it’s not as if they were barred from the White House or denied their credentials, but excluding news organizations that have reported extensively on Trump’s ties to Russia looks like payback.
While other news organizations protested, and The Associate Press and Time both chose not to attend the briefing as a sign of solidarity, it will be interesting to see if the protests result in changes in coverage or access.
The First Amendment does not specify that CNN or Politico have unfettered access to the Press Secretary and this breach in protocol may be exactly what many Trump supporters wanted when they sent him to the White House. Why elect a disruptive president and then have him follow protocols of access or formalities that have been in place for decades?
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The Trump administration, by sticking it to select media outlets, is making decisions that begin to nip at the edges of the First Amendment, however, and we should all be very concerned about that. Sean Spicer and President Trump need to be clear that even an “adversarial relationship with the press,” according to Senator McCain, is important for our democracy.
Paradoxically, by retaliating against these news outlets the Trump administration only turns up the heat on investigations into Russian connections to the campaign and administration. The more President Trump and Sean Spicer try to obfuscate and hide, the harder the media will look.
Just answer the questions honestly – even the ones you don’t like very much. Maybe especially the ones you don’t like very much.