If you watched Trump's first press conference in almost six months yesterday, you might have been confused about who was cheering and laughing, since there were only so many Breitbart reporters in attendance.
As it turns out, the clapping and cheering came from Trump's own employees, who got a look at the spectacle firsthand, while also conveniently taking up space that could have been occupied by pesky reporters. Politico described the employees in attendance as a "Greek chorus of loyal, paid staffers in the back of the room" who "served as a reminder, of sorts, of the movement of Trump backers happy to take him at his word and jeer the media as the out-of-touch liars."
The Trump transition team told Gothamist that there was no room for this reporter at the press conference "due to space restrictions," which seems to be contradicted by the fact that there was room for people to cheer the President-elect. Andrew Seaman, the ethics chair at the Society of Professional Journalists, says this was tantamount to excluding the public.
"Journalists are representatives of the public. Their whole purpose is to be witnesses to history and current events and inform the public of what's going on," Seaman told Gothamist when asked about the attendees at the press conference. "When you exclude journalists being present where the President-elect is holding a press conference, and you exclude them from asking questions or being there, in my mind you're excluding the public."
When asked why the Trump team made space for cheering staffers after telling this reporter "we are just at capacity," Trump's press director Stephanie Grisham told Gothamist that "there were roughly 30 staff in the room" and that the Trump press team "went above and beyond to give access to as many members of the press as possible." Grisham also asked if we believed "members of the President-elect's staff had no right to be there."
According to Steve Scott, the president of the New York Press Club though, the point remains that a press conference should only be populated by the press. Scott told Gothamist that:
A news conference is just that. A news conference. It's not a pep rally. Mr. Trump will have many opportunities to appear at events at which he is surrounded by cheering supporters. A news conference is not one of those opportunities. News conferences should be reserved for working journalists, and should be devoid of distracting cheers and applause.
Asked if she knew how many reporters were denied access to the press conference, Grisham replied “No."