Reporters from at least three different news organizations were reportedly kept out of a public hearing Tuesday dealing with cancer-causing chemicals at the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C.
According to the Boston Globe, reporters from the Associated Press, CNN, and E&E News were told that there was not enough room in at a hearing dealing with cancer contaminants in water.
The report said that the reporter from the Associated Press was physically removed from the building by a guard after trying to get into the hearing, which was open to media outlets “by invitation only.”
EPA Director Scott Pruitt attended the event as well as a “handful” of reporters from other outlets, according to the report.
”The Environmental Protection Agency’s selective barring of news organizations, including the AP, from covering today’s meeting is alarming and a direct threat to the public’s right to know about what is happening inside their government,” AP Executive Editor Sally Buzbee said in a statement. ”It is particularly distressing that any journalist trying to cover an event in the public interest would be forcibly removed.”
According to the article, EPA Spokesman Jahan Wilcox explained that there was not enough room for the reporters, who were not on an invitation list to cover the hearing.
The hearing, attended by about 200 people, dealt with a class of contaminants that are turning up at dangerous levels in nationwide water supplies, the Globe reported.
Pruitt said that dealing with the chemicals needed to be a national priority, the article said.
In a statement, CNN said that they hoped the EPA was as committed to a free press as they were, and that their reporter tried “several times” to get into the hearing.
According to an article in The Hill later in the day, all the reporters were allowed to cover the second part of the hearing.
According to The Hill, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said during the afternoon press briefing that the administration would look into what happened at the EPA, but would not comment further on the story because she was not there.
“I’m not going to weigh into random hypotheticals that may or may not exist,” she said. “I don’t know any information about this specific incident. You’re asking me to speak to blanket possibilities, which I’m not going to do.”
The incident is the latest round in what many see as a war between the Trump Administration and the press.
President Donald Trump has consistently called the media “fake news,” and criticized a variety of negative coverage since the start of the 2016 campaign.
Matters seemed to get worse last week over President Trump’s response to a question from Fresno, California Sheriff Margaret Mims about MS-13 gang members.
President Trump referred to the illegal gang members coming into the country as “animals” due to its record of heinous crimes, especially to women.
Many mainstream media outlets initially reported that Trump had made the comment about all illegal immigrants.
Several of those outlets later either retracted or amended their reports.