Newhouse Faculty React to Press Being Shut Out of White House Briefing
Newhouse faculty members react to the news that journalists from several news organizations–The New York Times, CNN, Buzzfeed News, Politico and the Los Angeles Times–were prohibited from attending a briefing by President Trump’s press secretary on Friday, a highly unusual breach of relations between the White House and the free press.
Roy Gutterman, Director of Tully Center for Free Speech at Newhouse School:
“It’s outrageous. It makes one wonder about what the White House might be up to, as they seem to send out these ‘smoke screens’ to divert the attention of the press. The President knows this will be the big story of the day. This completely deflects from the other major story happening, which was the conversations between the White House chief of staff and the FBI. That was the big story, but now it’s on the back burner. It’s starting to look like a strategy–the midnight tweets, fake news, and every time the press follows the story, it’s one less day of covering any ‘real’ issue. I like how the AP reacted, by not attending the press briefing. I credit AP for standing in solidarity with the NY Times. It’s important, now more than ever, for the free press to hold the White House accountable.”
Suzanne Lysak, Associate Professor of Broadcast and Digital Journalism, Newhouse School:
“It’s a concern, but I will say it will only motivate those organizations. We’re talking about some of the strongest journalists in the world at The New York Times. They will not be deterred. If they can’t attend official briefings, there are many other avenues to pursue the truth. In some ways, this may prove to be a motivating factor. But let’s remember, the actual stories reporters want to and need to go after are not in the briefing room. You’re getting the official White House message in those briefings. What you might not be getting is the truth.
“Trump realizes how banning the NY Times will dominate the headlines for next 24 hours. So what are they trying to deflect from? I think this is an attempt to distract. It’s ironic how President Trump was today talking about how he loved the first amendment. Then four hours later he’s banning the press from briefings. You can’t have it both ways.”