In Latest Attack On A Free Press, Donald Trump Denies Credentials To The Washington Post

Donald Trump continues his war on freedom of the press and reporters who cover him critically by barring The Washington Post from covering campaign events.

Trump Apprentice

In his latest sign of petulance, Donald Trump has barred The Washington Post from receiving credentials to cover Trump campaign events due to coverage that he didn’t like:

Donald J. Trump on Monday said his campaign would revoke the press credentials of The Washington Post, effectively prohibiting journalists from one of the nation’s largest newspapers from joining the traveling press corps of the presumptive Republican nominee.

Barring journalists is an almost unheard-of practice for a modern presidential candidate. The Post is the latest major news organization that Mr. Trump has barred from his rallies and events this year, following Politico, BuzzFeed News, The Huffington Post and others.

In a Facebook post on Monday, Mr. Trump accused The Post of “incredibly inaccurate coverage and reporting” and deemed it “phony and dishonest,” although he has granted frequent interviews to the paper’s editors and reporters in the past.

It was not immediately clear if Mr. Trump’s announcement meant he would end all his communications with Post journalists. Mr. Trump has a propensity to attack the news media, but he is also a keen cultivator of journalists, and he has been known to criticize reporters, then meet with them cordially shortly afterward.

Combined with Mr. Trump’s promise to “open up” the nation’s libel laws, his punitive attitude toward the press has prompted concern among media and free-speech advocates. Martin Baron, the executive editor of The Post, issued a statement on Monday calling Mr. Trump’s action “nothing less than a repudiation of the role of a free and independent press.”

“When coverage doesn’t correspond to what the candidate wants it to be, then a news organization is banished,” Mr. Baron wrote, referring to Mr. Trump’s practice. “The Post will continue to cover Donald Trump as it has all along — honorably, honestly, accurately, energetically and unflinchingly.”

Mr. Trump’s pique stemmed from a Post headline on Monday that suggested that the Republican candidate had linked President Obama to the Orlando, Fla., shooting massacre. The article, published on Monday, cited vague but insinuating comments made by Mr. Trump in a Fox News interview, in which he said Mr. Obama’s response to the shooting meant “he doesn’t get it or he gets it better than anybody understands.”

The Trump campaign cited the Post headline in a statement, adding: “We no longer feel compelled to work with a publication which has put its need for ‘clicks’ above journalistic integrity.” The campaign added: “Mr. Trump does not mind a bad story, but it has to be honest.”

On Twitter, news outlets facing similar treatment from the Trump campaign reached out in sympathy. “Welcome to the club,” Ben Smith, BuzzFeed’s editor in chief, wrote to Mr. Baron.

This isn’t the first time that Trump’s campaign has barred a major news outlet from receiving press credentials during the course of his campaign. Nearly a year ago, shortly after the start of his campaign, Trump barred the Des Moines Register from his campaign events after the paper published an editorial calling on Trump to leave the race for President based on his rhetoric against Mexicans and other minority groups. Eventually, it appeared as though that rift had healed, perhaps as Trump came to realize that barring the largest newspaper in Iowa from covering you while running for President wasn’t the wisest decision after all. Additionally, barring the Post or any other news outlet from covering the campaign as credentialed media doesn’t really mean much of anything. Even without credentials, Des Moines Register reporters were still able to cover the campaign and the rallies, the main impact of the lack of credentials was that they were denied access to the press area at campaign events and were not able to coordinate logistics with the campaign press office, one assumes that the Post will be able to operate in much the same way until such time as Trump changes his mind, which one suspects he ultimately will.

On some level, this action by the Trump campaign comes as something of a surprise considering the fact that several Post reporters have been given unique access to Trump and other top-level campaign staffers, and that Trump has been the subject of reporting by Robert Costa, Philip Rucker, David Weigel and other reporters who have been following the campaign around the country. In any case, this is yet another example of Donald Trump’s petulance and his tendency toward authoritarianism that constitutes yet another reason why he should be considered unqualified to hold the Presidency. If your immediate response to criticism or negative coverage as a candidate is to attack the press and bar them from covering your events, then what does that say about how you’d respond to critics if you are President and have all of the powers that office implies backing you up? I’d submit that it suggests nothing good, and that it’s a line that, as Ben Jacobs of The Guardian notes, even Nixon didn’t cross:

Post political reporter Chris Cillizza explains why this matters:

This should worry you. And by “you,” I mean everyone who is a citizen of the United States.

Donald Trump is one of two people who have a chance at being elected president Nov. 8. That is the most powerful job in the world. Period.

Given that reality, reporting on what Trump says and does is extremely important to people making an informed decision about the choice before them this fall. Same goes for Hillary Clinton, of course. The job of journalists — at The Post and everywhere else — is to give voters the fullest and most accurate picture of the two people who want to represent all of us as president.

That is a task that is, inherently, at conflict — at least at times — with the story the candidates want to tell about themselves. That tension is natural and often leads to uncomfortable relationships between the candidates and the media who cover them. Both sides push — the media for more accountability and transparency, the candidate for more “straight” reporting of what they are proposing without alleged editorializing.

It’s how things work.  It’s how things have always worked. The media’s job isn’t to simply write down whatever the candidate says and regurgitate it. The candidate’s job isn’t to kowtow to the media or do and say things the way he or she thinks the media wants to hear.

The problem with what Trump is doing is that he is revoking access because he disagrees with the coverage. Not because we have the facts wrong. It’s because he doesn’t like how the facts are being presented.

If you believe in a free press, you should also believe it’s not his right to do that. Trump can complain. He can not grant interviews with The Post (or the other organizations he has banned). He can call them out in speeches as being “dishonest.” But barring reporters from public events because you disagree with what they write is a dangerous precedent.

(…)

[R]emember the slippery slope. Sure, saying one outlet is biased and banning it doesn’t seem like a big deal. But if there are no referees, no objective judges to say “this is true and this isn’t,” then what are we left with? Each side with its own collection of “facts.” And that is a very dangerous place for a democracy to be — and one we are closer to than many people realize.

You don’t have to like the media. You can even hate us. But you should recognize that we are necessary for the functioning democracy that we all want.

Cillizza is correct, of course. The news media isn’t perfect, of course, and they should be criticized just as much as political leaders when they make mistakes, such as the fact that they spent the better part of the six months between the time Trump entered the race until the voting began in Iowa in February giving him free airtime to spew his demogogery and xenophobia unchallenged, but on the whole they perform a vital function in a free society that ought to be jealously guarded and defended. When a political leader like Trump comes along and seeks to attack them in the way that he has on a regular basis, that leader ought to be called out, not cheered as someone willing to challenge what conservatives have come to call the “lamestream media.” After all, if this is how they are going to act as mere candidates, one can only imagine how they’d act if they ever actually gained political power.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, Donald Trump, Politicians, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. James Pearce says:

    In all honesty, this makes Donald Trump look very weak and very scared. I’m embarrassed for his supporters. He’s not just a big mouth and a fake.

    He’s also a wimp.

  2. Hal_10000 says:

    No, this must be mistaken. Trump assured us that he has very thick skin. The best skin. The classiest skin. Way better than Clinton with her weak, paper-like skin.

    Can’t decide if Trump today is turning 70. Or 7.

  3. Mikey says:

    @James Pearce:

    In all honesty, this makes Donald Trump look very weak and very scared. I’m embarrassed for his supporters.

    I guarantee that to his supporters, this doesn’t look weak or scared. To them, he looks Extra-Super Manly because he stood up to one of the Lamestream Media’s most prominent outlets.

    He’s TOUGH, don’t you understand? Those nasty, biased liberal reporters wrote bad things and he THREW THEM OUT!

  4. Jc says:

    So thin skinned this guy is. Meanwhile the current POTUS will grant an interview to Fox News, the same network that hates on him 24-7 365, much worse than that pulled WaPo headline. GWB handled the tough media critiques and reporting. This guy cannot even handle the regular reporting, what a joke of a supposed leader.

  5. Cian says:

    Welcome to Russia on the Hudson.

  6. Jen says:

    He has no real cash on hand to run a political campaign through advertising, so he’s going to rely on earned media, because he’s “great at getting publicity.”

    He has, thus far, either banned, thrown out, or revoked press credentials to: Daily Beast, Politico, Huffington Post, and now the Washington Post–with no signs of stopping.

    Does anyone else see the potential problem in this plan, or will publicity on Fox News alone be sufficient?

  7. al-Alameda says:

    The Trump Soviet is picking up steam as it rolls toward the convention hall. I’m with @James Pearce: and @Mikey: on this, that is, two seemingly conflicted ideas can be equally true:

    (1) ” … this makes Donald Trump look very weak and very scared. “

    To normal sentient beings, this is definitely the case.

    (2) ” … I guarantee that to his supporters, this doesn’t look weak or scared. To them, he looks Extra-Super Manly because he stood up to one of the Lamestream Media’s most prominent outlets.”

    His supporters are bitter and resentful, and see news organizations like the Washington Post as part of what is wrong in America these days.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    But you should recognize that we are necessary for the functioning democracy that we all want.

    Obviously Cillizza has never met an honest to dog Trump supporter.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Holy shite, the spam blocker stopped hating me for once!!

  10. CSK says:

    @Mikey:

    Precisely. Every time Trump throws a tantrum unbecoming a three-year-old, his fans exalt him for being strong.

    @Jen:

    No,they don’t see the problem, because to a Trumpkin, there IS no problem.

  11. James Pearce says:

    @Mikey:

    To them, he looks Extra-Super Manly because he stood up to one of the Lamestream Media’s most prominent outlets.

    Sure, in the same way a pile of shit looks like a tasty meal to a dung beetle.

    But let’s look at it objectively:

    Donald Trump doesn’t have the ability to prevent the Washington Post from covering his campaign. And it’s not like the Wash Post is going to just roll over because he made their jobs harder. It’s the Washington Post, not Fox News.

  12. CSK says:

    @James Pearce:

    The irony here is that true Trumpkins hate Fox; it’s in the tank for liberal Democrats like Paul Ryan, you know. They get their hard “news” from Breitbart, Infowars, Conservative Treehouse, and a couple of other paranoid conspiracy blogs run by semi-literate crackpots.

  13. Pch101 says:

    @CSK:

    Oh, come on. “Breitbart News” is one of my favorite oxymorons (with plenty of emphasis on the “moron”.)

  14. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Hal_10000: And don’t forget his hands. His hands are big and powerful–with long fingers! They’re terrific hands! The best hands of any candidate ever. Just terrific. Not like other candidates hands–which, I tell you, have been a disaster. Just a disaster. No, his hands and skin are terrific. The best!

  15. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Jen: Depends on who the actual audience is. For me, while I see Cilizza’s point, I have trouble believing that anyone who isn’t a dementia patient (and maybe not even most of those) is deficient on the information necessary to make an informed choice.

  16. James Pearce says:

    @CSK:

    The irony here is that true Trumpkins hate Fox; it’s in the tank for liberal Democrats like Paul Ryan, you know.

    No doubt Fox News isn’t right-wing enough for the most devoted of Trump supporters, but I was thinking more of how Fox News was all too eager to declare a “truce” with the Trump campaign during the Megyn Kelly flap.

    This move makes the most sense in that context. Does he want the Post to stop covering him entirely? Or does he want the Post to cover him favorably?

    I bet a couple of sympathetic op-eds and some topical articles (about immigrants or ISIS) would be all it takes to put those credentials back on the table. Trump hates the political press. He thinks they’re all about access. That’s why he thinks the credentials are so valuable that he’d use them as part of this negotiation for good coverage.

    But I don’t know. Does the Washington Post need that access to cover him? Do they want it? I guess we’ll see.

  17. Moosebreath says:

    @James Pearce:

    “Does the Washington Post need that access to cover him? Do they want it?”

    I strongly doubt that the Post can afford to be seen knuckling under to Trump — it would hurt them far more than anything else. Moreover, their conservative columnists like Will and Krauthammer and Jennifer Rubin are strongly anti-Trump, and I suspect they would not sit quietly if that would happen.

  18. Dazedandconfused says:

    He has to slap one down every once in awhile to keep the others in line. (Pimpology 101) Score the recent Megan Kelly interview with…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYYTLJ8YHi4

  19. bill says:

    yawn, the current admin has always done it’s best to shun detractors from their ranks. it’s not like the wapo is some moderate rag to begin with, so they can just use the nyt feed or something.
    but back to reality, have any guns attacked some non-muslims today?!

  20. Franklin says:

    @bill:

    yawn, the current admin has always done it’s best to shun detractors from their ranks.

    Citation needed. (And links to The Blaze do not count.)

  21. James Pearce says:

    @Moosebreath:

    I strongly doubt that the Post can afford to be seen knuckling under to Trump

    I agree. Trump needs them (for good coverage) more than they need him (for press passes). No deal.

  22. Grumpy Realist says:

    If Trump can’t deal with a newspaper without blowing his stack, how is he going to deal with the Chinese or Putin?

  23. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Folks:

    I hate to pull a trump, and make this all about me, but here goes…

    I don’t care. Completely, and entirely, I don’t care anymore.

    Yesterday, I hit peak-trump.

    I know that I won’t vote for him. And I have faith that — based on his past (and likely continued) antics — not enough folks will vote for him to be significant. He’s lost the middle.

    So: I’m calling it here. Election is over, Clinton 45 is POTUS.

    The rest from here on in is nothing but noise, and a waste of time.

    Drinks are on me.

  24. Davebo says:

    Look, today he talked about US Soldiers looting reconstruction money and living high on the hog from it now.

    That’s going to be good for a 3 point positive poll bump because after all, taboo doesn’t apply to Trump.

  25. rachel says:

    @Hal_10000: Second childhood?

  26. Dave Schuler says:

    Trump is Congress?

  27. Mikey says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    Trump is Congress?

    He thinks he is. He probably thinks he’s SCOTUS, too, some days.

    He has an abysmally poor understanding of the role and powers of the Presidency, and his supporters basically want an authoritarian figure so he fits right in.

  28. James Pearce says:

    @Dave Schuler:

    Trump is Congress?

    No, he’s a presidential candidate who’s afraid of the pen-devils at the Washington Post.

  29. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @bill:

    have any guns attacked some non-muslims today?!

    No, but a # of people who had no business whatsoever owning a gun have. Why do you ask?

  30. Moosebreath says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    “Yesterday, I hit peak-trump.”

    Sorry, but I doubt peak-Trump has hit yet. There’s always a more outrageous thing to say or do.

  31. C. Clavin says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    peak-trump

    Interesting. Perhaps you are correct.
    But this piece, by Chait, makes me incredibly nervous…
    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/06/trumps-winning-over-the-republican-donor-class.html

  32. C. Clavin says:

    Interestingly, the same WaPo that has been barred from his campaign events has Trump’s un-favorables at 70% in a new poll. Seven in ten…that’s a tough bar to get over, even when you consider Clintons bad numbers (55%). 9 in ten Hispanics don’t like him. Wow. So much for minority outreach.
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/06/15/negative-views-of-donald-trump-just-hit-a-new-high-7-in-10-americans/

  33. Pete S says:

    @C. Clavin: Well this is the downside for Trump – he has now given the Washington Post free reign to print anything negative they want about him. They do not have to present his side, they can just say truthfully that he is declining to work with them.

  34. Jen says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Moore, along with fellow supply-side zealots Lawrence Kudlow and Arthur Laffer, has proposed revisions. Their idea is to save revenue by cutting out the parts of Trump’s tax cut that benefit middle-class earners, and focus the money on where they believe it’s most needed: on the top tax rates. These changes would be in keeping with the conviction among orthodox Republicans that the tax rate on the richest earners is the key determinate of economic growth.

    Incredible. One would think that with a “billionaire” at the top of the ticket, they’d shy away from this sort of thing, but nope.

  35. Hal_10000 says:

    @rachel:

    That would imply he ever finished the first one.

  36. Jenos Idanian says:

    How remarkable. All these people who screamed about how corporations don’t have First Amendment rights back during Citizens United have suddenly discovered a corporation (The Washington Post) that does have first amendment rights.

    So, corporations have the right to support Hillary Clinton, but not to attack her? Is that the standard?

    Silly me, thinking that the people here have standards.

    But the Post has been blatantly pro-Hillary and anti-Trump for some time now, even in their reporting. As Doug quoted, they misquoted him deliberately in the “Donald Trump Insinuates President Obama Identifies With Terrorists” story. They quietly retracted the headline, but there’s no way in hell it should have ever made it past the “layers and layers of editors and fact-checkers.”

    They’ve also had a columnist call for the press to gang up on Trump and treat him with far, far, far more critical attention than they’d ever give Hillary.

    So, how have they treated Hillary? To be continued in my next comment.

  37. Jenos Idanian says:

    So, how did the Washington Post handle Hillary’s e-mail scandal? They actually had to invent a term to describe it, the delightfully oxymoronic “willful misjudgment.”

    Think about that. She deliberately made an accidental error of judgment. How the hell does one do that?

    The Washington Post is clearly biased. They have put themselves solidly against Trump, and Trump has responded by accepting their declaration of hostility and returning it. Why the hell should Trump even pretend they’re objective, when they aren’t even pretending?

  38. James Pearce says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    The Washington Post is clearly biased. They have put themselves solidly against Trump

    These are strange complaints to have about a newspaper, dude, especially in this day and age.

  39. Jenos Idanian says:

    @James Pearce: We’re not talking about a newspaper, we’re talking about a media corporation that has declared its hostility to Trump. Why the hell should he treat them as not hostile?

  40. Mikey says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    As has been pointed out, even at the height of the Watergate scandal, during which the Washington Post’s reporters were busily gathering and making public information that would result in President NIxon resigning his office, Nixon never blacklisted the paper.

    And yet…look at the nothingburger that drove thin-skinned Trump to do that. Why are you shilling for this ignoramus?

  41. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Mikey: You’re right; Nixon never attempted to take away the Post’s credentials. Instead, he tried to sic the IRS and the CIA on his political opponents, and once nearly had a journalist assassinated, but no, he never threatened anyone’s press credentials, depriving them of special privileges and consigning them to being treated like any other member of the sweaty masses.

    Good thing, too. That action could have been yet another grounds for impeachment.

  42. Mikey says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Yes, Nixon did those things. Imagine what thin-skinned Trump would do, had he the power to do more than just blacklist a newspaper.

    And still you make excuses for him. Why do you support this petit Mussolini?

  43. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Shorter Jenos: “There is nothing Trump can do or say that I won’t argue for, because he is right in every way. But I’m really not supporting him. It’s just that he’s so incredibly wonderful. If only he’d shoot an unarmed black kid he’d be perfect.”

  44. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Mikey: When you did that backflip from “Trump is worse than Nixon” to “Trump could be as bad as Nixon,” did you hurt yourself? Or did you do a lot of stretching first?

  45. Jenos Idanian says:

    @wr: You proved yourself a worthless f$ck ages ago. You can stop reinforcing it. We all get it.

  46. Mikey says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Whatever. Anything you can do to keep excusing the inexcusable.

  47. bill says:

    @Franklin: it’s 2016……..google it yourself..

    but seriously, the wapo’s insinuation of trumps insinuation is pretty lame to begin with. do they even read.listen to the actual speech or just imagine things?