A senior anchor with Donald Trump’s media ally Fox News has criticised the White House for its exclusive media briefings after several mainstream news organisations were barred from a Q&A session.
The decision to bar some outlets from off-camera ‘gaggle’ with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has been was criticised by politicians, commentators and the organisations themselves.
Although representatives from Fox News were allowed to attend, Bret Baier, a senior anchor with the broadcaster, joined in with the criticism.
Taking to Twitter, he posted: “Some at CNN & NYT stood w/FOX News when the Obama admin attacked us & tried 2 exclude us-a WH gaggle should be open to all credentialed orgs.”
Those banned were organisations Mr Trump regularly attacks, repeatedly referring to them as peddlers of ‘fake news’ in his many tirades against the ‘dishonest media’.
But Fox News is one of the few Mr Trump praises and refers to in official statements, including his mention of a terror attack in Sweden which he later claimed was based on broadcast from the outlet.
He has also tweeted their praises, declaring himself a fan of the Fox and Friends show.
Other right-leaning outlets such as Breitbart and the Washington Times were allowed in to the now-controversial briefing, alongside some major news organisation including ABC, CBS, and Bloomberg.
The unorthodox style the Trump administration is adopting towards the media has been heavily criticised, with the gaggle held in the West Wing office instead of the traditional on-camera briefing in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room, another break with tradition.
The White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) voiced its concern over the latest apparent breakdown in relations.
Jeff Mason, the association’s president, said issued a statement saying: “The WHCA board is protesting strongly against how today’s gaggle is being handled by the White House.
“We encourage the organizations that were allowed in to share the material with others in the press corps who were not.
“The board will be discussing this further with White House staff.”
The White House fiercely defended its actions, with spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham – who allegedly turned away the non-preferred media outlets and called secret service to remove them – contesting the “facts”.
She said that “claims that outlets were excluded are not factual.
“The pool was there, so various media mediums were represented.”
Mr Spicer himself also maintained that the Trump team were open and accessible to the media.
He reportedly told those allowed in to the gaggle: “I think that we have shown an abundance of accessibility.
“We’ve brought more reporters into this process. … We’ve actually gone above and beyond making ourselves, our team and our briefing room more accessible than probably any prior administration.
“I think you can take that to the bank.”
CNN, The Associated Press (AP), The New York Times, BuzzFeed and the BBC are among those to issues statements condemning Friday’s decision.
Bloomberg, which attended, defended its position, with reporter Jennifer Jacobs tweeting: “Bloomberg was included because we’re in regular ‘pool.’
“AP invited too, but declined due to others’ exclusion. Bloomberg shared its audio.”
Time magazine and The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) were among those invited but declined to attend out of protest.
The WSJ later issued a statement saying: “Had we known at the time, we would not have participated and we will not participate in such closed briefings in the future.”