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Post Questions Trump's Knowledge of Free Press in America

  • VOA News

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, June 13, 2016.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, June 13, 2016.

Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan questioned if presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump understood the role of the free press in America just hours after he revoked the press credentials for Post reporters covering his campaign.

Sullivan said Tuesday that she had contacted Trump's campaign and wanted to ask the candidate to expand on his definition of the ban against the Post and how he would define the role of America's free press. She said she had not received comment as of her deadline.

Trump's campaign took issue with an article that appeared on the Post's website on Monday with the headline, "Donald Trump suggests President Obama was involved with Orlando shooting." The headline was changed to "Donald Trump seems to connect President Obama to Orlando shooting" within an hour after it was published.

Trump wrote on his Facebook page Tuesday, "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."

Later in the day, at a rally in Greensboro, North Carolina, Trump joked about revoking the Post's press credentials.

After losing her credentials revoked by the Trump campaign, the Post's national political correspondent, Karen Tumulty, tweeted: "Trump has revoked the Washington Post's press credentials. If elected, he will build a wall around 13th and K Streets [the D.C. location of the Post].

White House reporters and several media entities condemned the move.

The White House Correspondents' Association criticized Trump for "arbitrarily" banning news outlets.

"Any nominee for the highest office in the country must respect the role of a free and adversarial press, not disown the principles of the First Amendment just because he or she does not like the tone or content of their coverage," president Carol Lee said in a statement Tuesday.

Kathleen Carroll, executive editor of The Associated Press, said: "This is a race for the most powerful position on the planet. The public is interested in what the candidates do and say and having independent coverage is part of what keeps the public informed.

"The founders who crafted the U.S. Constitution may very well have disliked some of the stories written about them, but they enshrined the right to a free press in the First Amendment anyway," Carroll said.

"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," the newspaper's editor, Marty Baron, said in a statement.

"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," Baron said.

On Tuesday, CNN reporter Brian Stelter interviewed Trump regarding the Post's ban and he said Trump said that if elected, he wouldn't try to revoke anyone's White House press credentials.

The Post's Sullivan commented that Trump's revocation put the D.C. newspaper among other media that had its press credentials revoked, including The Des Moines Register, Politico, Buzzfeed and the Huffington Post. Some of those bans were later reversed, but it was unclear if the Post's would be.

The Post later Tuesday published an op-ed piece called "How to Cover Donald Trump Fairly: A Style Guide." It's No. 1 lesson: Donald Trump is never wrong.

The Post, based in the U.S. capital, is one the country's the most influential newspapers and has one of the largest circulations.

Media survey

Meanwhile, although Trump has regularly complained the media has treated him unfairly, a study released Tuesday by Harvard's Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy said the billionaire businessman has disproportionately benefited from news coverage of his campaign.

The study -- Pre-Primary News Coverage of the 2016 Presidential Race: Trump’s Rise, Sanders’ Emergence, Clinton’s Struggle -- found Trump received 34 percent of the media's coverage of the Republican primaries, far more than any of his Republican rivals. Jeb Bush came in second with 18 percent.

Trump's media coverage was worth about $55 million dollars, compared to $19 million for Bush.

The report said because Trump had no political experience or voter base, he resorted to the use of harsh rhetoric to compete with party rivals Bush, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

"The politics of outrage was [Trump's] edge, and the press became his dependable if unwitting ally," the report said. And "Trump exploited [the media's] lust for riveting stories," the report found.

The media was not as generous to the Democratic presidential candidates, particularly during the early days of the campaign season, the study said.

The media coverage was significantly less, but Clinton enjoyed substantial leads in polls over Bernie Sanders and other democratic hopefuls.

As media coverage of Trump boosted his poll ratings, it gradually eroded Clinton's advantage. Moreover, the study found that 84 percent of the issue-related coverage of Clinton was negative.

The report is based on an analysis of coverage from eight print and broadcast news outlets: CBS, Fox, the Los Angeles Times, NBC, The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.

Some material for this report came from AP and Reuters.

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