The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

After dogging Clinton, journalists now track Trump’s news conference drought

Donald Trump addressed the media at Trump International Hotel in Washington on Friday but did not take questions. (Evan Vucci/AP)

For three weeks in late August and early September, the Donald Trump campaign sent a daily email to reporters with the words "Hiding Hillary" and a number in the subject line. The number represented the days since Hillary Clinton had held a news conference.

Since Labor Day, however, Clinton has been unusually accessible to the press. Trump, meanwhile, has continued a withdrawal that began more than a month earlier. Is it time to start a "Hiding Donald" count? Clinton press secretary Brian Fallon seems to think so.

It's worth noting that Clinton's news conference drought lasted five times longer than the one Trump is in now. But comparisons aside, 50-plus days is a long time, especially for a candidate who for the first year of his campaign seemed to love nothing more than holding court before the assembled media, answering some questions with semi-related soliloquies and swatting away others with disdain.

It was like a sport for him. Lately, though, Trump doesn't want to play ball.

The most glaring example of the Republican presidential nominee's reluctance to engage was Friday's falsely advertised "birther" news conference in Washington. (The original announcement promised a "press conference"; that description was later changed to "event.") Trump spent most of the time hyping his new hotel and collecting praise from military figures; he spoke only briefly about President Obama's place of birth — the United States, Trump finally acknowledged — and took no questions.

That doesn't count.

Since then, reporters are increasingly taking note of how long it has been since Trump held a real news conference.

This is how Trump opened his last news conference, on July 27: "So, it's been 235 days since crooked Hillary Clinton has had a press conference. And you, as reporters who give her all of these glowing reports, should ask yourselves why."

Reporters are indeed asking why — but now they are turning the question on Trump. And he set himself up for this kind of scrutiny by making Clinton's avoidance of news conferences a campaign issue.