Controversy arose Friday when White House press secretary Sean Spicer held an informal press gaggle in his West Wing office allowing conservative media outlets in the meeting while blocking traditional, mainstream media outlets from getting in.
The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, CNN, BuzzFeed News and Politico were among the outlets blocked from the meeting, while the Washington Times, Breitbart News and One America News Network were among the non-traditional outlets allowed in.
According to USA Today, the White House press pool was also included so that every White House reporter could get the details from the meeting.
Still, many in the media, on both sides of partisan media, spoke out against the move.
The White House Correspondents Association said they are "protesting strongly" the move to exclude certain media outlets:
The WHCA board is protesting strongly against how today's gaggle is being handled by the White House. We ... https://t.co/e6JkOOlwzQ— WHCA (@WHCA) 1487965589.0
The New York Times executive editor, Dean Baquet, said the Times had never been excluded before in their time covering the White House:
NYT Exec. Editor Dean Baquet on media exclusion: “Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House is our lon… https://t.co/bpV2PRi0tZ— Bradd Jaffy (@Bradd Jaffy) 1487965558.0
CNN called the move "unacceptable":
CNN was blocked from WH @PressSec's media gaggle today. This is our response: https://t.co/8SfY2uYKEI— CNN Communications (@CNN Communications) 1487964987.0
Even Fox News anchor Bret Baier criticized the move:
Some at CNN & NYT stood w/FOX News when the Obama admin attacked us & tried 2 exclude us-a WH gaggle should be open… https://t.co/u37pDVDO1t— Bret Baier (@Bret Baier) 1487963736.0
But according to former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, who served as former President George W. Bush's first press secretary from Jan. 2001 to July 2003, holding informal press gaggles in the White House is very typical of press secretaries.
In fact, the media is just "hyperventilating" over the move, Fleischer tweeted Friday, while noting that former President Barack Obama hand-selected members of the media for impromptu meetings too, but the press never erupted over that.
"Please. Pres O met w groups of hand selected columnists. Tell me WH staff didn't have meetings w chosen reporters. Stop hyperventilating," Fleischer tweeted in response to a tweet from an NBC reporter who tweeted Baquet's statement.
Please. Pres O met w groups of hand selected columnists. Tell me WH staff didn't have meetings w chosen reporters.… https://t.co/VzOtm6GUeQ— Ari Fleischer (@Ari Fleischer) 1487965794.0
After some pushback, Fleischer clarified to say he believes it's "not wise" to bar certain outlets from a gaggle with the press secretary but the "media should calm down" because impromptu meetings between White House aides and certain members of the media happen routinely.
I think it's not wise for press sec 2bar outlets from gaggle. Job is to talk to all. But media should calm down. Aides do it all the time.— Ari Fleischer (@Ari Fleischer) 1487966222.0
Fleischer later went on CNN to explain his point again: that informal gaggles are very typical in the White House, Spicer should have met with all outlets instead of cherry-picking, but the outrage over Friday's incident, as if it never happened before, was ridiculous.
"Face it: There's nothing unusual about presidents meeting with selected reporters and White House staffs do it all the time, too," he told CNN's Brooke Baldwin.
.@AriFleischer says private gaggles are "unwise/counter productive" but NOT unusual/press is "not enemy of the ppl" https://t.co/AaJGjj7BR2— Brooke Baldwin (@BrookeBCNN) February 24, 2017