The Trump administration handpicked invitees to the White House Christmas party for news media on Friday at 2 p.m. Several journalists didn’t receive an invitation, including April Ryan — for the first time in 20 years of covering the White House.
“I don’t think I was overlooked,” Ryan told The Washington Post. “I think they don’t like me. For whatever reason, they have disdain for me.”
Ryan also tweeted on Wednesday that she “did not plan to go anyway.”
The veteran journalist is the Washington Bureau chief and White House correspondent for the American Urban Radio Networks and a CNN correspondent. She is one of the few women of color journalists with the credentials to attend daily press briefings at the White House. Donald Trump is the fourth president Ryan has covered.
“Now if you question [the Trump White House], you’re considered someone from the opposing party, versus just [a journalist] trying to get the facts,” Ryan said recently. “And God forbid, you are someone of a different race, I was speaking of myself, you’re considered an opposition. I don’t bring my politics, I just ask questions about what’s right and wrong, or things that go on in Washington.”
Although she receives push back from an administration that continues to disrespect Black women, she refuses to be silenced and asks questions of concern to the Black community.
Here are a few examples:
During a September press briefing, Ryan confronted White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders about Trump’s outspokenness regarding the NFL protests by predominantly Black players.
At a rally in Alabama, the president of the United States said: “Owners should say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field.’”
Ryan commented that many NFL players are upset about the back and forth with Trump, and Sanders interrupted to say “many Americans” were also upset, “far more Americans than there are NFL players.”
“Can I finish my question?” Ryan replied.
“Many NFL players are very upset, many people had different ideas and opinions on this, but when the president weighed in, the NFL said we will be united. There is an anticipation that it could grow worse this weekend. What is the president anticipating, what should we expect him to say about this? Is it now the NFL against the president?”
Sanders replied that it “shouldn’t be about the NFL against the president.” But instead it should be about “our country coming together to support the flag, support the national anthem.” She said the president is “clearly not going to back away from it.”
Ryan responded by giving the perspective of the NFL players.
“It’s not about not having pride,” she said. “They’re saying they’re patriots, they love this country, but they’re challenging the system.”
Ryan said the players are looking at the history of challenging the system when it comes to civil rights issues. Sanders responded that in regard to history the president wants to celebrate the people who protected the flag.
When Ryan tried to get further clarification, Sanders said, “I don’t think there’s much to clarify — it’s pretty black and white.”
“This is a big issue,” Ryan said. “People are very divided on this issue. It is a racial issue for some people and when the military issue is brought in, the military fights for the freedoms of this nation, and the players are saying they are thankful for the military service to allow the freedom to do this. Is there some kind of confusion here or is it us versus them?”
Sanders didn’t directly answer Ryan’s question; instead, she repeated that the flag and anthem should be respected.
‘Set up a Meeting with the CBC’
During a press briefing in February, Ryan questioned Trump on whether or not he planned to meet with the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC).
Ryan is a longtime White House correspondent and a professional journalist, but Trump didn’t see that. He saw a Black woman asking him about a Black organization and figured she’d surely have an inside connection with the CBC. So, he responded by telling the professional woman — who does not work for him — to organize a meeting with the politicians.
“I’ll tell you what, do you want to set up the meeting?” he said. “Do you want to set up the meeting? Are they friends of yours?”
Ryan replied: “No,” adding that she was “just a reporter.”
“Set up the meeting,” Trump continued. “Let’s go, set up a meeting. I would love to meet with the Black caucus. I think it’s great. The Congressional Black Caucus.”
‘Stop Shaking Your Head’
In April, former White House press secretary Sean Spicer accused Ryan of having a biased agenda. Ryan questioned Spicer about the perception of connections between the administration and Russia.
Spicer continued to critique Ryan’s questions, telling her at one point to “stop shaking your head, again.”
“It seems like you’re hell-bent on trying to make sure that whatever image you want to tell about this White House stays,” he said.
In regard to this year’s White House holiday party, according to Politico, “Under President Barack Obama, the White House’s traditional practice was to tell news outlets they had a certain number of slots available, and then let them choose who could go, according to Peter Velz, a former Obama press aide who helped organize the party the last two years.
“This year, the Trump administration has picked the invitees itself, leading many to wonder why they were left off.”
On Tuesday, CNN announced that it would not be attending the party.
“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, Sanders tweeted Tuesday night: “Christmas comes early! Finally, good news from @CNN.”
And Trump chimed in on Wednesday morning by retweeting Sanders and adding:
“Great, and we should boycott Fake News CNN. Dealing with them is a total waste of time!”