BELGRADE – The Trump administration is freezing out CNN, declaring that the White House has no desire to send surrogates to appear on “fake news.”
President Donald Trump has been fiercely sparring with the network, and reporters at the organization believe that he is trying to punish them and force their ratings to tank.
“They’re trying to cull CNN from the herd,” a reporter, speaking on background, told Politico.
The White House is still responding to questions from CNN reporters at news briefings, but has not sent a surrogate to appear on any of the network’s shows since early January.
“We’re sending surrogates to places where we think it makes sense to promote our agenda,” a White House official told Politico.
Since the CNN freeze, surrogates from the administration, including Mike Pence, Kellyanne Conway, Sean Spicer, and Reince Priebus, have made their rounds on Sunday shows, but invitations from CNN’s State of the Union, hosted by Jake Tapper, have been declined.
“We invited the Trump White House to offer us a guest to provide clarity and an explanation of what the president just did, especially given so much confusion, even within its own government by those who are supposed to carry out this order,” Tapper said on Sunday. “The Trump White House declined our invitation.”
While many have expressed outrage and panic over Trump “icing out the media,” this type of favoritism, or even hostility, toward certain networks is not a new situation for the White House.
In 2009, former Obama White House communications director Anita Dunn asserted that they would treat Fox News “the way we would treat an opponent,” in an interview with the New York Times.
“As they are undertaking a war against Barack Obama and the White House, we don’t need to pretend that this is the way that legitimate news organizations behave,” she said.
It is important to note that the Trump administration has solid reason to believe that not all media outlets are reporting on them fairly.
On Tuesday, Reuters editor-in-chief Steve Adler told staff in a letter to treat the coverage of the Trump administration as they would an authoritarian regime.
The letter cited how the organization covers nations like “Turkey, the Philippines, Egypt, Iraq, Yemen, Thailand, China, Zimbabwe, and Russia,” and urged staff to use that as a template for covering the Trump administration. Adler noted that while covering those governments, journalists routinely “encounter some combination of censorship, legal prosecution, visa denials, and even physical threats to our journalists.”