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Why the Clinton campaign blocked a Daily Mail reporter from getting on its van

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton's campaign blocked a "pool" reporter from traveling with her Monday in New Hampshire, exacerbating an already tense relationship between the 2016 Democratic presidential frontrunner and the national and international media.

  1. The reporter, David Martosko, works for the Daily Mail, which is based in Britain.
  2. He had been designated as the official print pool reporter for Monday.
  3. That means traveling with the candidate.
  4. Clinton campaign aides refused to let him get on the van.

Clinton aides say they're trying to figure out how to be fair to the various outlets, including foreign press, that want to cover the campaign.

The Daily Mail, which claims about 200 employees in the US, wasn't having any of it. "We are seeking an explanation from the Clinton campaign as to why this occurred," a Daily Mail spokesperson said.

What happened?

At 8:02 am, Martosko, the US political editor for Britain's Daily Mail, informed a small set of print reporters in the Clinton pool that he had been told by campaign aides he couldn't board a van in her motorcade.

A "pool" is a group of news organizations that agree to rotate responsibility for sending one reporter to events with limited media access. That reporter, known as a "pooler," then sends dispatches with news and color to the other reporters in the pool so that they can write about what happened for their readers.

Martosko said he tried to get on the van at 7:45 am and was informed by Meredith Thatcher, a New Hampshire Democratic Party press aide, that he had not been approved as the print pooler for the day. He had been picked for pool duty by his peers but denied access by the press aide, who was following orders from the Clinton campaign. The first time the issue had been raised with Ruby Cramer and Gabe DeBenedetti, the two reporters who act as liaisons between the campaign and the rest of the pool, was late Sunday night.

Here's the full note that Martosko sent to the pool, a copy of which was provided to Vox, which is not part of the Clinton pool.

Pool report No. 1 from David Martosko of the Daily Mail.

The campaign's explanation

Martosko later emailed the pool to say he had talked with Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill about the decision to exclude him from the press van and had gotten "varied and contradictory" reasons.

Here's what Merrill said, according to Martosko's account.

  1. "We've been getting a lot of blowback from foreign outlets that want to be part of the pool and we need to rethink it all, maybe for a day, and just cool things off until we can have a discussion."
  2. The Daily Mail doesn't qualify for the pool because it is not a member of the White House print pool.

Reporters familiar with the Clinton press pool tell Vox that foreign outlets, including the Guardian and AFP, have served as poolers already. And the standard of whether an outlet is part of the White House pool seems like an odd one for a campaign that has been insisting its candidate doesn't see the race as a coronation.

Here's Martosko's email.

Pool report No. 3 from David Martosko.

The backdrop

Clinton has been criticized for the infrequency with which she makes herself available to the national press corps for questions — acting more like an elected president than a candidate — and denying access to the designated pooler means even less information for readers.

Disdain for the press

Her general disdain for the media has been well-chronicled, and, either by design or dumb luck, the outlet her campaign excluded on Monday is one that often publishes pieces that are unflattering to her.

In an email to Vox, Merrill downplayed the tension between the campaign and the media.

"We want a happy press corps as much as the press corps does. And we work very hard to achieve that in tandem with them," he wrote. "It's a long campaign, and we are going to do our best to find equilibrium and best accommodate interest from as many news outlets as possible, given the space limitations of our events."