Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) is taking the blacklist to a new level. He is not merely withholding press passes from the News & Observer of Raleigh; he is refusing to even give the newspaper a schedule of events for his reelection campaign.
The move, according to News & Observer reporter Colin Campbell, is "effectively limiting the newspaper from reporting on Burr’s public appearances." It's tough to cover events you don't know about. While some are well-advertised, "there have been several events we only learned of via Twitter after they had ended," Campbell told The Fix in an email.
"The Burr campaign had been sending near-daily news releases in early October outlining where Burr would be campaigning, but The N&O stopped receiving those releases in recent weeks," Campbell reported Monday. He said the paper received an email in which Burr's campaign explained that it had "put an embargo on sending you scheduling details until you demonstrate the ability to cover this race from a balanced point of view."
Burr is in a virtual dead heat with Democrat Deborah Ross, a former state lawmaker.
The real test of Burr's toughness will be whether he ultimately relents. Trump in September began issuing credentials to outlets he had previously blacklisted. Another Republican, Maine Gov. Paul LePage vowed in August that he "will no longer speak to the press ever again after today" but proved unable to keep his word.
Just a few weeks ago, LePage held a news conference to which he brought some unusual props — Russian nesting dolls painted with the faces of Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Monica Lewinsky, Paula Jones and Gennifer Flowers.
If Trump and LePage are any indication, Burr's stiff-arming of political reporters may not last long.