CNN journalists, buffeted by brutal news cycles, are as festive as any other media types around this time of year. Yet the network decided that it wouldn’t be spreading the joy at this year’s White House Christmas party. “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,” the network announced this week.

The White House, however, is showing some disdain for top-down holiday-party invitation rejections. According to a CNN source, White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters on Thursday afternoon sent the following appeal to a dozen-plus CNN staffers who work behind the scenes to produce the network’s coverage of news at the White House:

Good Afternoon,
The President wanted you to know that while the rest of CNN will not be attending the Christmas reception, if you’re able to he is still happy to have you – the cameramen, sound, and other technicians, who work so tirelessly behind the scenes – to come participate. You and your guest will be on the list at the entrance. Please note this invitation is nontransferable.

Cynical gesture designed to drive a wedge between on-air talent and off-air production workers? Or goodwill gesture to send a welcoming message to unheralded CNN employees? CNN chose not to comment on the matter. Walters issued the following statement to the Erik Wemple Blog: “We appreciate that this is a unique opportunity and special time for people, including the President and First Lady who have offered to welcome guests into their home. While some chose to try and become the story, the folks behind the scenes capturing it are rarely recognized and it does not go unnoticed.”