White House bans 4 journalists from Trump's dinner with Kim Jong-un


Donald Trump will go down in history as one of the most anti-press presidents in United States history, often speaking of “fake news” and describing the mainstream media as the “enemy of the people.” And on Wednesday, February 27, the White House banned four journalists from covering President Trump’s dinner with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un in Hanoi, Vietnam—including reporters who were on assignment from Reuters, the Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times and Bloomberg News.

According to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the reporters were banned from the event because of “sensitivities over shouted questions in the previous sprays.”

The journalists who were banned included the Los Angeles Times’ Eli Stokols, Reuters’ Jeff Mason, the Associated Press’ Jonathan Lemire and Bloomberg News’ Justin Sink. Journalists who were allowed at the dinner included the Wall Street Journal’s Vivian Salama and some members of the state-operated North Korean media. Salama, however, did not ask any questions.

In an official statement, Sanders said, “Due to the sensitive nature of the meetings, we have limited the pool for the dinner to a smaller group but ensured that representation of photographers, TV, radio and print poolers are all in the room. We are continuing to negotiate aspects of this historic summit and will always work to make sure the U.S. media has as much access as possible.”

According to Washington Post reporters Josh Dawsey and Philip Rucker, Sanders did not clarify whether the decision to ban Stokols, Mason, Lemire and Sink was made at Trump’s request or Kim Jong-un’s request. But when Sanders was asked if the North Korean government was responsible for the White House’s decision, she responded, “I wouldn’t say that.”

Before being banned from the dinner, the AP’s Lemire had asked Trump if he had a response to attorney Michael Cohen’s Wednesday testimony before the House Oversight Committee in Washington, D.C. Trump shook his head and did not say anything.

Lauren Easton, a spokesperson for the Associated Press, was highly critical of the White House’s decision to exclude four reporters from the dinner. In an official statement, Easton asserted, “The Associated Press decries such efforts by the White House to restrict access to the president. It is critically important that any president uphold American press freedom standards, not only at home but especially while abroad.”

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