A Manhattan congresswoman, hailing the press as “more vital now than ever,” demanded Saturday that the Trump administration stop barring some news organizations from its White House briefings.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, a Democrat, stood outside the Eighth Avenue headquarters of The New York Times — one of the handful of news organizations that Trump press secretary Sean Spicer barred from a briefing on Friday.
“There’s no democracy without freedom of the press. It’s absolutely vital, and you can’t single out and exclude based on the content of what a reporter writes,” Maloney said. “You can’t do that.”
At issue is an informal briefing Spicer convened in his office with some news organizations but not others. CNN, The New York Times, Politico, Los Angeles Times and BuzzFeed were among those not allowed in. CBS, NBC, ABC, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Time and The Associated Press were admitted, though some organizations, including the AP, boycotted in protest.
According to a recording of the briefing by a reporter who was there, Spicer said: “We’re going to aggressively push back. . . . We’re just not going to sit back and let, you know, false narratives, false stories, inaccurate facts get out there.”
Maloney said she was alarmed when she read what happened in the newspaper Saturday morning.
“It’s just unprecedented in the modern era to exclude major news organizations. It must be opposed,” she said. “They’re more vital now than ever because the Republicans now control the House, the Senate and the executive branch, so the Democrats cannot initiate oversight.”
Civil liberties lawyer Norman Siegel, who attended Maloney’s rally, said he’d like to see a joint lawsuit by news organizations to challenge the Trump administration’s exclusions, on First Amendment-prohibited, viewpoint-discrimination grounds.
“You give censors an inch, and then they take a yard and then they take a mile, and then you wake up one morning and you don’t have your rights anymore,” said Siegel, the former head of the New York Civil Liberties Union.