Real estate mogul Donald Trump has officially banned The Washington Post because he didn’t like how they were covering his campaign. While many on the left and right have rightly blasted the move, the truth is, Barack Obama has been accused of doing the same thing.
In a Facebook post, Trump declared, “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 later explained on Facebook what caused him to ban the paper.
“I am no fan of President Obama, but to show you how dishonest the phony Washington Post is, they wrote, ‘Donald Trump suggests President Obama was involved with Orlando shooting’ as their headline. Sad!” Trump wrote.
The headline is a reference to Trump’s Monday appearance on Fox and Friends, where he skewered President Barack Obama.
“Look, we’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he’s got something else in mind,” Trump said. “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.”
The Post later changed their headline to “Donald Trump seems to connect President Obama to Orlando shooting.”
The paper fired back at Trump.
“Donald Trump’s decision to revoke The Washington Post’s press credentials is nothing less than a repudiation of the role of a free and independent press,” retorted executive Marty Baron. “When coverage doesn’t correspond to what the candidate wants it to be, then a news organization is banished. The Post will continue to cover Donald Trump as it has all along — honorably, honestly, accurately, energetically, and unflinchingly. We’re proud of our coverage, and we’re going to keep at it.”
Many journalists were up in arms over Trump’s action:
Politico editor Susan Glasser called it a “violation of the basic right of a free press to report.”
David Folkenflik, the media correspondent for National Public Radio, said that Trump “loves the media’s attention and hates the media’s reporting.”
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.”
But in 2008, Obama did something similar, just less overtly. His campaign removed three reporters from the Washington Times, New York Post and Dallas Morning News off the press charter plane and claimed it was due to a lack of space and a need to focus on swing states. However, John Solomon, then-executive editor of the Times, speculated that the decision to remove them from the plane coincided with his paper endorsing Obama’s opponent, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).
“This feels like the journalistic equivalent of redistributing the wealth,” Solomon said. “We spent hundreds of thousands of dollars covering Senator Obama’s campaign, traveling on his plane, and taking our turn in the reporters’ pool, only to have our seat given away to someone else in the last days of the campaign.”
Dallas Morning News editor Bob Mang complained, “We’re protesting it and we’re not happy about it. We’re not in a swing state, but given our history of outstanding political reporting, we’re upset, particularly when you see guys like Glamour on board.”
The president has also been notoriously non-transparent with the press, despite his repeated claims otherwise. A consistent view would be to criticize both Trump and Obama for their dealings with the press.