Donald Trump’s campaign escalated its growing animosity with the press last night, excluding a Politico reporter, who regularly covers his campaign, from Trump’s victory event in Florida.
The reporter, Ben Schreckinger, had written a critical story about Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who was accused last week of assaulting another reporter.
Schreckinger had applied for credentials to cover the event and was granted permission on Tuesday morning, according to Politico. His press pass was revoked in a separate email a few minutes later, and Schreckinger – who showed up to the event anyway – was removed by Trump’s security.
This is far from the first time the Trump campaign has retaliated against reporters for critical coverage. In January, the New York Times’s Trip Gabriel was ousted from a Trump event in Iowa after publishing a piece on Trump’s vanishingly small, chaotic ground game. Of course, Trump went on to lose that contest for precisely the reason Gabriel identified.
Publications as wide-ranging as National Review, Univision, and BuzzFeed have all had reporters denied at Trump events.
All of this looks particularly bad following the widespread negative press the Trump campaign received when Lewandowski allegedly grabbed Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields to pull her out of the way, nearly knocking her to the ground. In the days since, Trump’s campaign has both denied the incident ever happened and started a smear campaign against Fields, calling her an "attention seeker" who brought the negative press on herself.
In sum, it reveals a campaign unwilling and unable to handle criticism of its operations, raising serious questions about the kind of access a Trump administration would provide reporters. The concern may seem glib – many other reporters were present at last night’s victory event, so what’s one fewer? But the tendency to retaliate against reporters trying to hold the campaign accountable threatens all Americans’ right to a free and vibrant press.