FOR THE second time since his election last week, President-elect Donald Trump broke with long-standing norms Tuesday to elude the small group of reporters assigned to cover his movements. “Give me a break!” was the response of one of his sons in dismissing as no big deal the family’s unannounced excursion for dinner. But the public should be concerned that Mr. Trump has so little regard for its right to information that he would allow the release of misleading notices to shield his activities.
Like it or not, there are obligations to the office to which he has been elected. Mr. Trump should respect them if he is to have any credibility.
After refusing to let the media travel with him last week when he met with President Obama at the White House, Mr. Trump Tuesday again ditched the reporters assigned to watch him. His spokeswoman told the press pool there would be no more news or travel for the evening — and Mr. Trump then departed with his family for the 21 Club, a restaurant near his Trump Tower residence. He spent some two hours there. Journalists became aware that he was leaving home only when they spotted the large motorcade. A reporter who happened to be dining at 21 spotted Mr. Trump, tweeting a picture that sent pool reporters scrambling to get in place.
The press pool is a vital tool in keeping Americans informed. In case of an emergency, it is on hand to provide timely and important information. Think, for example, of 9/11 and how the country was helped by knowing where the president was and what he was doing. Equally important is the day-to-day information that is provided about where the president is, what he is doing and whom he is meeting with. Lest anyone think the reporters Tuesday night were planning on pulling up a chair and having a steak with Mr. Trump, the pool is normally kept away in a separate room or vehicle to allow the president privacy.
Mr. Trump is not yet president, but the information protocols of the office still apply. His spokeswoman in an email to us on Wednesday said that the next administration intends “to follow precedent in regards to access as soon as possible.” That commitment is reassuring. It should take effect now.