You might have heard that presumptive Republican presidential nominee and all-around feisty guy Donald Trump has revoked the Washington Post’s credentials to cover his campaign. Perhaps, like me, you didn’t even know you needed credentials to cover a presidential campaign. Learn something every day.
Turns out, the WashPo has to get in line in this one. Trump has already revoked credentials for Politico, Huffington Post and other news outlets.
It’s a curious move, and one that does not bode well should he eventually occupy the Oval Office.
Generally, candidates clamor for the free publicity they receive in our news pages. My guess is that Trump falls in the camp that believes there really is no such thing as bad publicity. Nevertheless, he seems to equate “things he doesn’t like” with “dishonesty.” There has, of course, been a lot of reporting on the Trump campaign that is hard to gussy up. There has been negative reporting on Trump University and the candidate’s lifelong relationship with women, to name just two examples.
Which is really neither here nor there. Washington Post Editor Marty Baron – the same guy who ran the Boston Globe’s Spotlight team, by the way – has said that the unofficial newspaper of the federal government will continue with rigorous coverage of Trump’s campaign even if access to the candidate is restricted. I don’t doubt him a bit. It’s really no different than a mayor in New Iberia becoming miffed at the Daily Iberian and refusing to comment in future stories. It doesn’t mean the Daily Iberian will quit asking tough questions. …
Here’s a prediction: The Washington Post – which has a proud history that includes breaking the Watergate scandal — will manage. In fact, we are likely to get a lesson in how to cover the news from the outside. Too often we rely on easy access, talking points handed to us, emails with the candidate’s statement and so forth. The Washington Post is about to show us how to do it the hard way. I’m looking forward to it.
Addendum: After I posted this, a couple things occurred to me.
The first is that this is why I’m loathe to accept or apply for credentials to anything. Sometimes it can’t be avoided. You can’t cover the Olympics without a credential. You can’t cover the White House without one. But I have consistently argued that we don’t need one from local law enforcement. We aren’t asking for any kind of special access — only the rights afforded everyone under the Constitution. Why do I make a stink? Because if they give it to you they can take it away. We shouldn’t beg for a chance to cover things.
Secondly, I read that the Washington Post might be responding by redoubling its efforts. That probably wasn’t what Trump wanted (though I’m sure he will just use it as more evidence that we are all out to get him.) At any rate, I’m most pleased.