Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has announced that it is revoking credentials provided to the Washington Post, one of the most prestigious and largest newsrooms of the USA. Trump in a Facebook post wrote that this was ‘based on the incredibly inaccurate coverage and reporting in the record-setting Trump campaign’. Trump called the paper ‘phoney and dishonest’.
It seems that one of the reasons for this is a story the Post published earlier in the day. The headline of the story read, ‘Donald Trump suggests President Obama was involved with Orlando shooting’. Trump has taken offence at the headline even though he maintains that ‘he is no fan of Obama’.
The reporter Jenna Johnson, who wrote the story, based her post on Trump’s lengthy interview on Fox News early on Monday morning on the Orlando killings. Trump had remarked about Obama, “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 also remarked in the same interview that when it comes to fighting terrorism, the president “doesn’t get it or, or he gets it better than anybody understands”.
Trump’s remarks about Obama were widely interpreted to be suspicious and sinister in nature. CNNPolitics described Trump’s comments as suggestive of a ‘conspiracy theory’.
Post spokeswoman Kristine Coratti Kelly said that the headline was changed shortly after the story posted ‘to more properly reflect what Trump said’. The headline now reads, “Donald Trump seems to connect President Obama to Orlando shooting.”
“We did so on our own,” she added, “The Trump campaign never contacted us about it.”
However, Trump’s campaign reiterated its decision in a statement on Monday evening. “We no longer feel compelled to work with a publication which has put its need for ‘clicks’ above journalistic integrity,” it read.
Washington Post editor Martin Baron said Trump’s decision to revoke the 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 organisation is banished. The Post will continue to cover Donald Trump as it has all along – honourably, honestly, accurately, energetically, and unflinchingly. We’re proud of our coverage, and we’re going to keep at it,” he said.
Journalists from across the industry reacted to the ban on Twitter, some suggesting that being banned by Trump was a badge of honour.
Kathleen Carroll, executive editor of the Associated Press, said on Monday night: “This is a race for the most powerful position on the planet. The public is interested in what the candidates do and say and having independent coverage is part of what keeps the public informed.”
“The founders who crafted the US constitution may very well have disliked some of the stories written about them, but they enshrined the right to a free press in the first amendment anyway,” Carroll said.
Trump’s has often taken offence at other news outlets too over coverages which he disagrees with. His campaign has revoked credentials from the BuzzFeed, Daily Beast, the Huffington Post, Politico and the Des Moines Register. Some journalists call this Trump’s ‘black-list’.
The Huffington Post tweeted at The Post on Monday afternoon and said “Welcome to the club.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists said in a statement, “A candidate for the highest elected office in the land doesn’t get to choose what goes into a newspaper.” It added that Trump’s actions “provides a ready-made excuse for authoritarian leaders to crack down further on independent journalists.”
Reporters without press credentials can still attend news conferences and other events hosted by Trump, as a public person. However, access gets restricted to certain events.
For example, BuzzFeed DC bureau chief John Stanton said he was stopped from attending Trump’s primary night press event last week. Stanton tweeted that he “wasn’t even let on the premises of Trump’s golf course for his press conference.”
However, a Washington Post photographer and reporter attended Trump’s speech in New Hampshire Monday afternoon without any problem.