'Washington Post' Banned From Events By Trump Campaign

Jun 14, 2016
Originally published on June 15, 2016 8:54 am
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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Donald Trump announced on Facebook yesterday that he would rescind The Washington Post's press credentials. Reporters from the paper will no longer be able to cover his campaign events in person. It's a new low in Trump's relationship with the media, though that's never been great. Here's an example from a press conference late last month.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

DONALD TRUMP: But what I don't want is when I raise millions of dollars, have people say - like this sleazy guy right over here from ABC. He's a sleaze in my book. You're a sleaze because you know the facts and you know the facts well.

MONTAGNE: NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik joins us now from New York. Good morning.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK, BYLINE: Good morning, Renee.

MONTAGNE: Obviously, Trump - not a fan of the media, actually gets a lot of response from his crowds, his audiences. They often boo when he talks about the media. Why has he now singled out The Washington Post, though?

FOLKENFLIK: Well, he gets a lot of mileage for going after the media generally. What happened here, The Post - it appears that he was upset The Post reported on his vague insinuations about what President Obama might have known about the Orlando attacks. Trump said, if you recall, there's something going on - very vague, very unsubstantiated. The Post covered it, said that he suggested that Obama might be involved, later softened that phrase into connected to in a headline.

But, you know, that's against the backdrop of The Post having done some of the best enterprise reporting in the mainstream media about Donald Trump, looking after - about - into his holdings in Atlantic City, reporting about some of the strong allegations against how Trump University was conducted.

And in that - even in that clip we heard, the veterans groups' questions of what Donald Trump had really raised or given had been raised very strongly by a Washington Post reporter. He responded by lashing out against the reporter, against the paper and against the owner, the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos. All in all, a pretty institutional attack by Donald Trump.

MONTAGNE: Yeah, and not, though, the first time Trump has ordered reporters out.

FOLKENFLIK: No, not at all. I mean, they said - a number of others said welcome to the club. You had BuzzFeed, Politico, in key states The Des Moines Register, the New Hampshire Union Leader, Huffington Post, Daily Beast and Univision and Fusion have all been, as I understand it, prevented from covering his events live.

MONTAGNE: And The Post editor, Marty Baron, hit back in a statement yesterday saying, partly, The Post will cover - continue to cover Donald Trump as it has all along - honorably, accurately, unflinchingly. That's The Post's editor.

Still, though, how much does banning Post reporters from Donald Trump's presence affect coverage?

FOLKENFLIK: Well, look, I mean, maybe not as much as you think. I think access can often be overrated. Even those reporters who are officially allowed to attend the events are often penned in the back in very restricted areas. Reporters can cover things from the general crowd.

But I think it's worth pointing out in a number of instances private security guards and campaign staffers that picked reporters out who are just working the crowds and tossed them - had them evicted from events. So even their people can be - from singled out institutions can be tossed.

MONTAGNE: Well, just finally, does Trump have a point, though? I mean, is he really facing some bad press coverage that also has some issues of its own?

FOLKENFLIK: Well, look, boo-hoo. This is the job, man. You know, you're going to run for president. You have to face scrutiny. You've got to take the lumps. You know, the press has been a target of candidates, particularly on the right, for decades going back to Richard Nixon. But, you know, this is a reflection of a hostile approach to the press, somebody who has, you know, who sued a New York Times reporter, Tim O'Brien, for reporting things unfavorably.

And yet, it's worth remembering, Donald Trump hates media coverage but loves media attention. This campaign couldn't exist without fairly full-blown 24/7 coverage. And in this case, Donald Trump doesn't like the scrutiny, so he says get the heck off my lawn.

MONTAGNE: OK, thanks very much.

FOLKENFLIK: You bet.

MONTAGNE: That NPR's media correspondent David Folkenflik. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.