CNN, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Politico and Buzzfeed were blocked from an off-camera
press briefing Friday held by White House press secretary Sean Spicer just hours after President Donald Trump again said much of the press represents "the enemy of the people," this time during a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.
On Thursday, CNN reported
that the FBI refused a request from the White House to knock down recent reports that President Donald Trump's campaign had been in contact with Russians known to US intelligence.
"The Trump White House thinks it can punish reporters for sharing with you facts that they do not like," Tapper said.
"Make no mistake about what's happening here," Tapper continued. "A White House that has had some difficulty telling the truth and has seemed to have trouble getting up to speed on the competent functioning of government and a President who seems particularly averse to any criticism and has called the press the 'enemies of the American people,' they're taking the next step in avoiding checks and balances and accountability."
It is "indicative of a lack of basic understanding of how an adult White House functions," he added.
Tapper noted that in December, Spicer said the White House would not ban media organizations as the Trump campaign had done.
CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin also responded on air Friday after learning the White House had blocked the news outlets from press gaggle, saying the move was unacceptable.
"This is not OK," the "Newsroom" host said, speaking with CNN's Sara Murray
When Baldwin asked Murray why CNN wasn't at the briefing, the White House correspondent detailed the chain of events that led to the exclusion of the news organizations.
The White House was "handpicking the outlets they wanted in for this briefing, so Breitbart, The Washington Times, One America News Network, news outlets that maybe the White House feels are more favorable, were all allowed in," Murray said.
Murray and Baldwin also surmised that the White House likely was responding to recent CNN reporting on the conversation between the White House and FBI and the previous stories on Trump campaign contact with Russians.
"The White House is clearly incensed over this excellent CNN reporting about conversations between the White House chief of staff [Reince Priebus] and senior officials in the FBI," Murray said.
Following news of the White House's move to block the news organizations, CNN's public relations department expressed dissatisfaction via Twitter, also calling the maneuver "unacceptable."
In a brief statement defending the move, Trump spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the White House "had the pool there so everyone would be represented and get an update from us today."
The pool usually includes a representative from one television network and one print outlet. In this case, four of the five major television networks -- NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox News -- were invited and attended the meeting, while only CNN was blocked.
Dylan Byers, Sara Murray and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.