Target: Sean Spicer, the White House Press Secretary
Goal: Criticize the bar of journalists of selected media outlets from an official daily briefing.
Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, recently barred reporters from The New York Times, BuzzFeed News, CNN, The Los Angeles Times, Politico, the BBC, and The Huffington Post from an official daily briefing. The move comes as the Trump administration escalates its self-proclaimed war against the media and argues that the latter is the enemy of the American people. Although clashes between the press and the government are perfectly standard, the decision of excluding some outlets on an apparent preference basis is a grim sign of authoritarianism and even unconstitutionality.
Public officials have the right to give exclusive interviews and provide selected leaks, with no complete equal access to information to every single journalist. However, access to public forums such as a news conference, along with the required press passes, is guaranteed by the First Amendment. In this case, neutral criteria should prevail over any preference or discrimination against previous reports or pieces. Mr. Spicer’s team has argued that allocation followed logistical criteria, which were aimed to diversify the pool of reporters. It is, nonetheless, strange that only Trump-friendly outlets could attend the meeting while those who usually displease the administration were left out.
White House officials have delivered statements remarkable for their inaccuracy and even absurdity — for instance, their defense of so-called alternative facts. Criticisms of the press by presidents is rather the norm than the exception throughout American history, and this is exactly what makes the United States such a robust democracy. However, constant denigration of the press by labeling it “fake news,” demonization of internal leaks, and the threat of the use of confidential sources by journalists is worrisome and dangerous. Sign the petition to express your concern with the freedom of the press and to guarantee that the exclusion of journalists from official meetings does not happen again.
Dear Mr. Spicer,
I would like to express my grave concern with the exclusion of journalists from The New York Times, BuzzFeed News, CNN, The Los Angeles Times, Politico, the BBC, and The Huffington Post from an official daily briefing hosted at the White House. It is worrisome that the Trump administration has been escalating its push against the press, calling it “fake news” and disseminating so-called alternative facts. A free press is an essential foundation of any healthy democracy, and the current administration should take any criticism by the media as a natural part of its exercise.
I urge you to review your positions, open a respectful dialogue with members of all media outlets, and not to exclude or restrain official information from any journalist.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Gobonobo