Donald Trump said today that he is pulling the Washington Post’s credentials to cover his campaign events. Trump explained: “Based on the incredibly inaccurate coverage and reporting of the record setting Trump campaign, we are hereby revoking the press credentials of the phony and dishonest Washington Post.”
Trump’s decision was prompted by a headline on the Post’s website that declared: “Donald Trump seems to connect President Obama to Orlando shooting.” The article became the most read on the website, according to the Post.
The headline was obviously untrue, as the Post tacitly acknowledged by changing it. The paper says it made the change on its own initiative, before Trump complained.
Maybe so. But there is no excuse for such a headline ever having appeared. Moreover, the Post’s coverage of Trump has been unfair since Day One. I say this as someone who strongly opposed the him during the primary season and who does not support him in the general election.
A candidate for president shouldn’t pull a newspaper’s credentials just because he’s unhappy with its coverage of him. But the Post’s headline was a libel (in common, as opposed to legal, parlance), and was consistent with the tenor of much of its coverage.
I don’t think a candidate is required to take this lying down. If the Post is going to cover Trump the way the Democratic Underground might, it shouldn’t expect to be treated any better than I assume Trump would treat the Democratic Underground.
As I understand it, revoking the Post’s credentials doesn’t mean it can’t cover Trump events. It just means the Post won’t have a privileged perch when it does so.
I have no problem with this.
I fear, however, that it’s just the tip of the Trump iceberg. Suppose Trump is elected. The mainstream media’s coverage of him will continue to be unfair and at times probably libelous (in common, as opposed to legal, parlance).
What if Trump then denies access to certain media organizations? What if he treats the Washington Post the way the the Obama administration treated Fox News for a while?
For me, this would be problematic, just as it was in the case of Fox News. I agree with Allahpundit:
Once he’s elected, [Trump] owes the public transparency; punishing a news outlet by denying them access means denying the people insight into how their government is working. He doesn’t owe anyone anything at the moment.
I doubt this is the kind of distinction Trump will make. He distinguishes between people who say nice things about him and people who say not nice things. Unfortunately, that seems to be the extent of his discernment.