Donald Trump could ban journalists from the White House, says adviser

President-elect wins praise from leader of Turkey for refusing to talk to CNN reporter

Jon Sharman
Sunday 15 January 2017 12:52
Donald Trump in angry exchange with CNN reporter after President-elect refuses question

Donald Trump’s incoming administration could evict the press corps from the White House, it has been reported, after one senior transition official described journalists as “the opposition party”.

Reporters currently occupy a space inside the White House’s West Wing, where the press secretary gives briefings and the President holds press conferences.

But advisers are weighing up arrangements in the James S Brady briefing room in the wake of coverage they view as hostile, Esquire reported.

One unnamed official reportedly told the magazine: “They are the opposition party. I want them out of the building. We are taking back the press room.”

Mr Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer confirmed the transition team was “discussing” the situation, framing it as an opportunity to have more journalists at briefings.

“There has been so much interest in covering a President Donald Trump,” he said.

“A question is: is a room that has 49 seats adequate? When we had that press conference the other day, we had thousands of requests, and we capped it at four hundred.

“Is there an opportunity to potentially allow more members of the media to be part of this? That’s something we’re discussing. There has been no decision.”

The press might be moved next door, to the Old Executive Office Building, or to the White House Conference Centre slightly further away, Esquire said.

Mr Trump recently won the praise of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for refusing to talk to a CNN reporter at his first media briefing in six months.

Mr Erdogan has himself cracked down on members of the opposition, academics, journalists and rights activists since a failed military coup in July last year, after which the government declared a state of emergency.

At the press conference in Trump Tower on Wednesday, Mr Trump refused to take a question from CNN’s White House correspondent Jim Acosta, dismissing the reporter on the grounds that he and the network produce “fake news”.

Mr Acosta later claimed Mr Spicer had threatened to throw him out if he asked another question.

Incoming Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus told ABC's This Week: "The only thing that we discussed was whether or not we want to move the initial press conferences into the Executive Offices Building—which, by the way, is the White House, so no one's moving out of the White House, that is the White House—where you can fit four times the amount of people in the press conference, allowing more press, more coverage from all over the country."

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