Excluding journalists from White House briefings poses First Amendment issues

First Amendment advocates were concerned about the Trump administration’s move to bar several reporters from an off-camera White House briefing. Among those excluded last Friday were reporters from The New York Times, CNN, the Los Angeles Times, Politico, BuzzFeed, the BBC and the Guardian. AP, Time and USA Today boycotted the briefing in protest. Trump recently called the press “the enemy of the people.” Press Secretary Sean Spicer said recently that his office was going to “aggressively push back” at what he considered unfair and false stories in the media. (CNN, February 24, 2017, by Dylan Byers, Sara Murray and Kevin Liptak)

In questioning if the administration is on sound constitutional grounds in excluding reporters, Adam Liptak, The New York Times, February 28, 2017, cites a recent federal court ruling this week that the New York Police Department may have violated the First Amendment in revoking the press credentials of a free lance journalist. Judge J. Paul Oetken wrote, “It has been held impermissible to exclude a single television news network from live coverage of mayoral candidates’ headquarters and to withhold White House press passes in a content-based or arbitrary fashion.” Jameel Jaffer of Columbia University said in excluding reporters whose work you don’t like constitutes viewpoint discrimination which is unconstitutional.