Donald Trump continued his yearlong job as the nation’s most high-profile media critic: “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,” wrote the presumptive Republican nominee in a Facebook posting.
Though the Erik Wemple Blog is writing up a brief post on this matter, we won’t rave about the news value here. Since he launched his campaign in June 2015, Trump has denied access to a number of media outlets that have published derogatory pieces about him. The Des Moines Register, the Huffington Post and Politico are among them. Reporters from a number of other publications — National Review, Univision, BuzzFeed, the Daily Beast, Fusion and Mother Jones — have run into the Trump-access stonewall.
Determining they whys and wherefores of the Trump stiff-arm is generally a pretty easy undertaking. Just look for recent coverage that isn’t “nice” to the candidate, to use one of his favorite terms. In the case of The Post, on Monday it published an article under the headline, “Donald Trump suggests President Obama was involved with Orlando shooting.” The piece arose from some almost unintelligible but highly suggestive remarks that Trump made Monday morning on “Fox & Friends.” Among them:
“Look, we’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he’s got something else in mind. And the something else in mind — you know, people can’t believe it. People cannot, they cannot believe that President Obama is acting the way he acts and can’t even mention the words ‘radical Islamic terrorism.’ There’s something going on. It’s inconceivable. There’s something going on.”
Trump had also called on the president to resign and gave this rationale to his “Fox & Friends” hosts: “He doesn’t get it or he gets it better than anybody understands — it’s one or the other, and either one is unacceptable.”
The Post later changed the headline on its roundup story to “Donald Trump seems to connect President Obama to Orlando shooting.”
Washington Post Executive Editor Marty Baron says this about the switch: “We changed the headline shortly after it posted to more properly reflect what Trump said. We did so on our own; the Trump campaign never contacted us about it.”
On the larger questions raised by Trump’s Facebook post, Baron issued this statement:
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. We’re proud of our coverage, and we’re going to keep at it.
When it comes to policy toward media organizations, Trump is about as consistent as he is on policy toward abortion and taxes. Remember those days when “crazy” Fox News host Megyn Kelly was “sick,” “overrated” and a “lightweight reporter”? Well, after Kelly hosted Trump for a softball interview on the Fox broadcasting network, his tune pivoted.
Well, that is it. Well done Megyn — and they all lived happily ever after! Now let us all see how "THE MOVEMENT" does in Oregon tonight!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 18, 2016
And to what does this denial of “press credentials” apply? We’ve asked the Trump campaign and didn’t get an immediate response, though its people have carefully monitored and enforced media access to its various rallies. There’s one such event tomorrow in Greensboro, N.C. The Post won’t comment on how it plans to cover the rally.
The Trump campaign issued the statement below, which revisits comments that the mogul has made about Washington Post owner and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos:
The Washington Post unfortunately covers Mr. Trump very inaccurately. Today’s headline, “Donald Trump Suggests President Obama Was Involved With Orlando Shooting” is a perfect example. We no longer feel compelled to work with a publication which has put its need for “clicks” above journalistic integrity.
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.
The Post has a contingent of reporters working on a book about Trump, with the full cooperation of the candidate himself. “He’s given us a lot of time and I’m grateful for that,” said Baron in a previous discussion with this blog.
Updated to include full statement from the Trump campaign.