When Sean Spicer banned CNN, the New York Times, and other outlets from his press briefing today while allowing Brietbart, the Washington Examiner, and One America News Network in, he had a specific purpose in mind.
The goal was to spin the story reported by CNN and the New York Times yesterday away from the White House, and he cherry-picked outlets in order to do that.
According to the expanded pool report, Spicer held the briefing in order to "push back on what happened and why it happened," with regard to the White House effort to get the FBI to back down on the Russia-Trump story.
That same report really didn't have much in the way of pushback, either. Spicer insisted that the FBI said the story was wrong and so they were trying to get them to correct the record. Had that been the case, I'm certain the FBI wouldn't have demurred when asked to do so, right?
It's quite revealing to see a press secretary claim he's countering stories by two major media outlets at the same time he's excluded them from the briefing. If he really wanted those stories countered, why wouldn't he have invited them in to kill the story once and for all?
Once again, it's clear the White House is deeply concerned about these stories, and they definitely should be. After all, obstruction of justice is a real thing, and something that could get Trump impeached. Spicer can spin it for the propaganda outlets all he wants, but in the end, the truth will out.
When it does, Trump will be out.
Meanwhile, here's Jake Tapper offering a piece of his mind. "It's petulant!"
— Matt Wilstein (@TheMattWilstein) February 24, 2017
Update: The White House has published a transcript of their little press gaggle. I found this piece to be pretty awful.
Q Can you talk about -- exactly, the pushback from this morning?
MR. SPICER: Yeah, I think -- we gathered with a small group this morning. And I think part of this is to make sure that, especially in the case of CNN in particular, it was -- you were -- I think several media outlets, who, a majority, frankly, carried it very responsibly in terms of how the events unfolded. But it's a pretty serious accusation. And when you see the chyrons on CNN and the headlines and their story making it appear as though we did something wrong or nefarious, we wanted to make sure that we set the record straight.
And I think that this morning was an opportunity to push back on what actually happened and why it happened. And I think with respect to the events, just to be clear -- and I know we've gone over some of it -- that the deputy director of the FBI was at the White House for a 7:30 meeting, or whenever it was, the morning that the story came out. He asked to see the chief of staff after the meeting privately, and said, in very colorful terms, that The New York Times story was not accurate. As would anyone, frankly, at the time say, "Could you clarify that then? If it's not true, could you clarify the story?" The deputy director said, "I'll get back to you." When he got back to us, he said, hey, look, we don’t want to get in the practice of starting to refute every story. The chief of staff said, well, you've put us in a very difficult situation; you've told us that a story that made some fairly significant accusations was not true. And now you want us to just go out there -- and I think that we have a right, if there's information, or if you're saying the story is not right, could you at least make it available to the media or some folks in the media that, yes, that story is not right? It made very, very serious allegations.
And further in the day, the director of the FBI said to Reince that you have every right to go out there and say that you've been briefed by us, which he did.
But again, it's easy to "push back" when you don't have the outlets in the room who actually reported the stories.