Donald Trump said today that he is ending his ban on several news organizations, including The Washington Post, that he had stripped of their credentials to cover his rallies and news conferences.
The Post was the last and largest of about a dozen media organizations that the Republican presidential nominee banned because of what he deemed unfair coverage of his campaign. Others on the blacklist included the Huffington Post, the Daily Beast, Politico and BuzzFeed.
The bans, apparently unprecedented by a major-party candidate, prevented reporters at blacklisted news organizations from receiving credentials to cover Trump’s public events and from flying on a press charter that follows the Republican nominee around the country.
The ban’s demise was first reported by CNN.com. “I figure they can’t treat me any worse!” the candidate told CNN.
Although the restriction has created an inconvenience for reporters, forcing them to seek general-admission tickets to his rallies and to fly on commercial flights, the affected news organizations say the ban has not deterred them from covering Trump.
As such, the ban was mostly symbolic, signaling to voters that the nominee would take harsh measures to retaliate against news coverage he deemed unfair. In banning The Post in mid-June, for example, he called the paper “dishonest” and “phony.”
“Revoking press credentials was imprudent, pointless and offensive from the start,” said Post Executive Editor Martin Baron. “We’re pleased to see the ban come to a long-overdue end.”
Trump has been a consistent critic of the media during his campaign; at one rally this summer, he pointed to the press pen and told supporters that the media was “the lowest form of humanity.”
Trump’s blacklist surprised journalists when he began imposing it last year, first on the Huffington Post, which had consigned its coverage of him to its entertainment section, and then on the Des Moines Register, which had urged him to drop out of the race.
Some privately said Trump began to reconsider his ban after his inclusion of The Post created a backlash among some voters, who considered it draconian and authoritarian.
His reversal on his ban also follows Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s recent meetings with reporters on her campaign plane; Trump has criticized Clinton for not holding news conferences.
Trump said in June, however, that he wouldn’t take similar measures against the media if he were elected.
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Paul Farhi