In a bizarre move Friday, the White House succeeded in drawing attention away from President Donald Trump’s rallying speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference known as CPAC.
Usually when the president speaks, it’s up to his staff to lay low unless his message needs clarifying or enhancing.
Friday it was announced on the president’s daily schedule that there would be an on- camera gaggle with Press Secretary Sean Spicer. A gaggle is similar to a press briefing, but it’s typically less formal. Later the schedule was updated to say the gaggle would be off – camera and that the “extended pool” should gather in the press briefing room.
Every day there is a rotating pool of reporters who cover the president. However, it’s rare to see guidance about an “extended pool”.
At 1:30, about 25, maybe 30 reporters showed up in the press briefing room confused about what was about to happen.
“Spicer’s coming out right?” asked one reporter to another.
“I don’t know what’s going on,” chimed in another.
Shortly thereafter the doors behind the podium opened and reporters started lining up.
“It’s going to be in his office,” one reporter realized aloud.
At a certain point, people near the front of the line started turning around. Press staff said reporters who didn’t get an email couldn’t get in.
The pool and a handful of other outlets were handpicked to attend the gaggle. CBN News was not included on that list.
It was a strange move on a Friday afternoon following a major speech by the president to Republican activists. It’s a speech that would have likely played prominently in news cycles through the Sunday talk shows.
President Trump dedicated a good chunk of his CPAC speech to scolding the media.
"I want you to know that we are fighting the fake news," he told the crowd.
They’re very smart, they’re very cunning and they’re very dishonest,” he continued.
Was Spicer’s move an extension of his boss’s speech? Was he trying to punish certain outlets by leaving them out?
CNN and the New York Times, two outlets that have bore the brunt of Trump’s anger toward the media were left out of the gaggle.
The Associated Press and Time Magazine boycotted the gaggle in protest.