Donald Trump, who has refused to issue campaign press credentials to reporters whose coverage he dislikes, said in an interview published Wednesday morning that he would not continue the practice as president.
At the White House, “It’s a different thing,” Trump told CNN’s Brian Stelter. He added that he had banned reporters who he thought had treated him unfairly, but skirted a question about when a “bad” story about his actions would be justified.
Trump has been revoking reporters’ press credentials for at least a year, but the so-called blacklist has expanded as the general election nears to include prestigious news outlets and received renewed attention Monday when he announced he would no longer issue credentials to The Washington Post . The practice has attracted widespread criticism.
Legal scholars and media experts say Trump’s punishment of select reporters, combined with his statements about the media, display a dangerous misunderstanding of the role of a free press in a democracy. Trump has also said he would loosen libel laws to make it easier to sue media organizations
“All I want is to be treated fairly,” Trump told Stelter . “By the way, if I have a bad story, that’s okay, if it’s true. If I deserve it. You know, I’ll deserve bad stories on occasion. Hopefully not too often.” But when Stelter asked when Trump had deserved such coverage, Trump demurred. “I don’t know, I won’t even get into it,” he said.
Reporters who run afoul of the Trump campaign can attend events like rallies as members of the public, but without the access and privileges that come with press credentials. They are not allowed at press conferences.
Trump’s animosity toward the media plays well among his followers. The audience at the Tuesday night rally loudly cheered when when he talked about his ban of the “dishonest” Post, which was prompted by a headline on its website.
“When I’m representing the United States, I wouldn’t do that.” Trump told Stelter. “But I would let people know if somebody’s untruthful.” He said he had denied access to campaign reporters because he rents private properties for events. “I have an option” to deny access, he told Stelter.
Media outlets that have been denied Trump press credentials include The Des Moines Register, The Huffington Post, Politico, Buzzfeed, The Daily Beast and the Spanish-language television station Univision. Trump’s fued with Univision started when the station canceled the broadcast of Trump’s Miss USA pageant.