White House excludes CNN from annual pre-SOTU lunch with news anchors

President Donald Trump’s targeting of CNN is moving to yet another arena: The annual presidential lunch with television network anchors.CNN anchors are being excluded from Tuesday’s lunch, three sources said on Monday night.Trump, like presidents before him, typically invites anchors from all the major networks to dine with him at the White House in advance of his State of the Union address. The lunch conversation is considered off the record, but it gives the anchors a sense of the president’s state of mind before they anchor SOTU coverage. “Despite Trump’s persistent attacks on the news media, he’s kept up such traditions,” Politico pointed out last year.CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer attended last year’s lunch. Blitzer has been attending these lunches longer than almost any other anchor — 20 years in a row.

Journalists from other networks are still planning on attending Tuesday’s session, according to sources at those networks.This is the first time in recent memory that a president has singled out one network and opted to not invite any anchors from there.White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham did not respond to a request for comment on Monday night.The president has directed his ire at CNN dozens of times over the past three years. He has declined all of CNN’s requests to sit down with him for an interview and has denigrated both the network as a whole and some of its individual journalists. His administration also suspended chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta’s press pass until a federal court ruled in CNN’s favor.