On Tuesday night, CNN announced that they will be boycotting Friday’s annual White House Christmas party between the Trump administration and the news media, blaming President Trump’s “continued attacks on freedom of the press and CNN” to skip the event.
Politico had the story first just before 6:30 p.m. Eastern, citing a quote from a CNN spokesperson:
Adding fuel to its growing feud with President Donald Trump, CNN told POLITICO it will be boycotting the White House Christmas party for the media this year.
“CNN will not be attending this year's White House Christmas party,” a CNN spokesperson said. “In light of the President's continued attacks on freedom of the press and CNN, we do not feel it is appropriate to celebrate with him as his invited guests. We will send a White House reporting team to the event and report on it if news warrants.”
In response to the news, current White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders expressed her glee with CNN’s attempted navel-gazing:
No matter the president, the White House Christmas party usually features members of the news media from both New York and Washington plus family and friends (although it was a hotter ticket when their beloved Barack Obama was in office).
The President has frequently made CNN a target of both his public remarks and tweets while both White House press secretaries have tangled with CNN correspondents (e.g. Jim Acosta). On Saturday, the President sent CNN into a tailspin when he tweeted about CNN International being fake news.
Since then, they've been responding with numerous on-air defenses of the network (including this one by Wolf Blitzer), arguing that Trump has put the lives of journalists at risk and not considered that much of the media criticism revolves around political media bias.
However, the notion that people in Washington can put aside their differences to engage in the spirit of the holiday season seemed to fly out the window on Tuesday. No matter its legitimacy, average news consumers down to Trump supporters could see CNN’s decision as further evidence that their political coverage is the opposition party.
If CNN is concerned about furthering media literacy in America, such a protest seems to have the possibility of backfiring.