Donald Trump said Monday that he is pulling The Washington Post’s credentials to cover his events because he is upset with the newspaper’s coverage of his campaign. The move puts the newspaper on a long list of media outlets that the presumptive Republican nominee has banned for reporting that displeased him.
“Based on the incredibly inaccurate coverage and reporting of the record setting Trump campaign, we are hereby revoking the press credentials of the phony and dishonest Washington Post,” read a post on Trump’s Facebook page.
Another post said, “I am no fan of President Obama, but to show you how dishonest the phony Washington Post is, they wrote, ‘Donald Trump suggests President Obama was involved with Orlando shooting’ as their headline. Sad!”
Trump was referring to an article that posted online Monday afternoon that was headlined, “Donald Trump seems to connect President Obama to Orlando shooting.” The article was the most-read on The Post’s website at the time. Its original headline, which Trump accurately cited in his Facebook post, was changed after about an hour. The newspaper changed it on its own, before Trump’s complaint.
Post editors were unsure Monday evening what Trump’s ban entailed. Editors learned of it from Facebook and have had no contact with Trump or his campaign aides.
In a statement, Post Executive Editor Martin Baron said: “Donald Trump’s decision to revoke The Washington Post’s press credentials is 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.
“The Post will continue to cover Donald Trump as it has all along – honorably, honestly, accurately, energetically and unflinchingly,” Baron continued. “We’re proud of our coverage, and we’re going to keep at it.”
Trump has criticized The Post a number of times during the campaign. In a TV interview last month, he accused Amazon founder Jeffrey P. Bezos of using his ownership of The Post to deflect scrutiny of Amazon’s taxes and suggested he would launch an antitrust investigation of Amazon if he becomes president. Bezos denied Trump’s claims and said the comments weren’t “appropriate” for a presidential candidate.
Trump repeated his assertion about Amazon and The Post – for which he has presented no evidence – in a brief press statement on Monday.
“We no longer feel compelled to work with a publication which has put its need for ‘clicks’ above journalistic integrity,” the statement said. “They have no journalistic integrity and write falsely about Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump does not mind a bad story, but it has to be honest. The fact is, The Washington Post is being used by the owners of Amazon as their political lobbyist so that they don’t have to pay taxes and don’t get sued for monopolistic tendencies that have led to the destruction of department stores and the retail industry.”
In addition to its daily news coverage of Trump, The Post has a team of reporters and editors engaged in writing a book about Trump’s life and business career that will be published this summer.
It’s unusual for a candidate to ban a reporter, but Trump has done so repeatedly since he announced he was seeking the Republican nomination last June. Among the news organizations whose reporters have been blacklisted: Gawker, BuzzFeed, Foreign Policy, Politico, Fusion, Univision, Mother Jones, the New Hampshire Union Leader, the Des Moines Register, the Daily Beast and Huffington Post.
The bans, which have been erratically enforced and of seemingly arbitrary duration, typically mean a reporter from the affected news organization is barred from covering campaign events. Some banned reporters have entered his rallies on general-admission tickets. One of them – Ben Schreckinger of Politico – was escorted out of an event last week by campaign officials after he tried to report while in the crowd.
Schreckinger was also booted from Trump’s Florida mansion, Mar-a-Lago, in March after he sought to cover a news conference. However, Schreckinger has also periodically been able to secure credentials to Trump events.
BuzzFeed’s reporters have been consistently denied credentials and turned away by Trump since the start of the campaign, said Ben Smith, the news site’s editor. Smith said he believes the ban stems from an unflattering profile of Trump that BuzzFeed published in 2014. But the ban hasn’t deterred BuzzFeed’s reporting, he said. “They say access is a curse, and I’d put our coverage up against anyone’s,” Smith said.
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Paul Farhi