Guest Opinion: Trump uses new tactics against press
Donald Trump should write the correction on The Washington Post headline that so offended him he revoked the news organization’s campaign credentials.
The headline read: “Donald Trump suggests President Obama was involved in Orlando shooting.” It was later changed to “Donald Trump seems to connect President Obama to Orlando shooting.”
It’s common practice for media organizations to write corrections or clarifications on information that may be incorrect or unclear. And Trump’s statement that tripped up the Post headline writer was obscure. Following the shooting, Trump told Fox News that Obama “doesn’t get it, or he gets it better than anybody understands.”
On June 13, he added, “There’s something going on.”
What does Trump mean by this innuendo?
It’s the job of the journalists to ask that question and to give the candidate a chance to explain. That’s what journalists do: examine potential officeholders, question them in order to inform voters about what kind of people want to lead them.
But Trump wants none of it. No public scrutiny, no probing questions, no disagreements with what he says.
And journalists will do their jobs anyway.
Tiffs over access are nothing new between candidates and the press. In 2011, the Obama administration wrongly banned The Boston Herald from participating in the press pool during a presidential visit. The Herald said the petty action came after an Obama press staffer emailed the paper that the administration did not like an opinion piece criticizing the president’s policies. Hillary Clinton’s press staff blocked credentials for a foreign newspaper in 2015, opting to give U.S. media preference for travel with the campaign and access to media-only events.
But Trump has taken this tactic to a new level, revoking credentials for at least eight media organizations.
While his supporters may share his attitude toward the press, they should take note of a report this week by Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center that eight top news outlets gave Trump what amounts to $55 million of free advertising, and about two-thirds of the coverage was positive.
If “there’s something going on,” if Trump has information that links Obama to the Orlando shootings, surely his supporters would want the press to pursue it.
So far, the only clarification from Trump has been a statement that Obama “continues to prioritize our enemy over our allies,” which does little to explain his sinister insinuation.
Journalists will keep asking for clarification and The Washington Post has promised to continue covering Trump “energetically and unflinchingly” despite the loss of credentials.