Media

Ari Fleischer criticizes 'hyperventilating' press after mainstream media outlets excluded from gaggle

CRAWFORD, UNITED STATES: White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer briefs reporters 27 August 2002 in Crawford, Texas, following US President George W. Bush's meeting with Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar bin Sultan at Bush's Crawford, Texas, ranch. Fleischer said Bush and Bandar discussed many issues including the fight against terrorism and US concerns about Iraq. AFP PHOTO by Luke FRAZZA (Photo credit should read LUKE FRAZZA/AFP/Getty Images)

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 New York Times executive editor, Dean Baquet, said the Times had never been excluded before in their time covering the White House:

CNN called the move "unacceptable":

Even Fox News anchor Bret Baier criticized the move:

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.

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.

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.

One last thing…
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