Trump Excludes Shocked CNN From Traditional News Anchor Luncheon Before State of the Union

CNN media reporter Brian Stelter announced today that he's shocked, SHOCKED that the network's main anchors appear to have been left off the guest list of the traditional White House pre-State of the Union luncheon.

The luncheon is an intimate off-the-record confab in which the president usually gives an insight into what he'll talk about in his annual congressional address.

Stelter announced that CNN had been left off the guest list in his newsletter:

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

President 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 told me 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, according to sources at those networks. But I believe this is the first time that a president has singled out one network and opted not invite any anchors from there."

Of course, you may wonder who targeted whom first. Trump has famously dismissed CNN as "fake news," due mostly to the histrionics of erstwhile White House reporter Jim Acosta.

Acosta's show-boating is the main reason why there are so few formal media briefings in favor of informal "gaggles" with Trump holding court. Reporters are not seen on camera in these settings.

Many see the slight by the president as a natural reaction to hours of anti-Trump content daily on CNN as well as moments like this, when anchor Don Lemon and guests laughed at and mocked GOP voters:

Trump has dismissed Lemon as the "dumbest man on television."

The State of the Union speech is set for tonight – awkwardly scheduled between the Senate impeachment trial, the Iowa caucus debacle, and the final vote Wednesday to acquit President Trump.

Several lawmakers have vowed to boycott the speech, wear white, or bring guests to attempt to put pressure on Trump.

Though Trump's last State of the Union speech was one of his better ones, these speeches many times end up sounding like a president reading a pedestrian grocery list of programs. This year, however, will be one to watch.