National Press Club

NPC protests White House blackballing of news organizations

February 24, 2017 | By John M. Donnelly | jdonnelly@cq.com

Leaders of the National Press Club and the National Press Club Journalism Institute expressed shock Friday about the White House press secretary’s decision to keep several news organizations which have written critical stories about President Trump out of one of his briefings.

The White House Correspondents Association has protested the move.

National Press Club President Jeffrey Ballou issued the following statement:

I find it deeply disturbing and completely unacceptable that the White House is actively running a campaign against a constitutionally enshrined free and independent press.

That the White House would block journalists from covering the daily off-camera briefing of reporters by the White House press secretary is wrong and we protest it in the strongest possible terms.

The action harkens back to the darkest chapters of US history and reeks of undemocratic, un-American and unconstitutional censorship. The National Press Club supports our colleagues in the White House Correspondents Association in its protest and calls on the White House to reverse course.

Like all presidents, President Donald Trump has a standing invitation to speak at the National Press Club and answer questions from our members. We can think of no better place to continue the debate about the role of the press and the First Amendment than the place where newsmakers and news reporters have met for more than 100 years.

National Press Club Journalism Institute President Barbara Cochran said:

President Donald Trump said today that he is “not against the press,” just against the “fake news media.” But the Constitution protects all news organizations, not just those liked by this or any other president. All news organizations make mistakes from time to time, but they are trying to tell the truth and generally do it well. News organizations mustn’t be confused with so-called fake news sites that make up stories to sow lies or generate profits from social media.

The president said, “No one loves” the First Amendment “more than me.” We call on the president and his staff to prove that and stop interfering with the ability of all news organizations to do their job of covering the White House.

Kathy Kiely, the NPCJI’s Press Freedom Fellow, said:

This action will do far more damage to the White House than to the news organizations involved. Sadly, reporters are all too accustomed to working around officials who deny them access to information the public should have. The only thing new here is that the censors are not foreign despots but public servants paid by the U.S. taxpayers. To coin a phrase: Sad!

The National Press Club is the world's leading professional organization for journalists. Through its Press Freedom Committee, the club works to promote freedom of expression and transparency at home and abroad. The National Press Club Journalism Institute, a non-profit affiliate, equips news professionals with the skills to innovate, leverages emerging trends, recognizes innovators and mentors the next generation.

Contact: John M. Donnelly, NPC Press Freedom Committee chairman: jdonnelly@cq.com; 202 746 6020.