U.S. President Donald Trump refuses to accept the realities of his position as time goes on. Those realities include the fact that the First Amendment is in place, which protects the freedom of the press.
This week, CNN’s Kaitlan Collins was banned from an open media event in the Rose Garden after having asked questions of the president earlier in the day that the White House didn’t like. The Washington Post now reveals that there’s actually a strong behind the scenes precedent for that move, with Trump routinely venting to aides about how he wants journalists who ask him tough questions to be punished. The actions he has considered include revoking a journalist’s press credentials altogether and denying them access to one-off events, in addition to other possibilities.
According to an unnamed current official, Trump has quipped:
‘These people shouting questions are the worst. Why do we have them in here?’
The White House actually taking action against a reporter who asked questions the president didn’t like corresponds to a new communications official coming on board. Bill Shine, who used to work at Fox News before falling out of favor thanks to his role in covering up sexual harassment, is now the White House deputy chief of staff, with communications under his authority.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary and another communications official in on the action taken against Collins, attempted to defend the journalist being barred from the event in question.
She said, using hyperbole that observers have come to expect from the Trump administration:
‘President Trump is the most accessible president in modern history. He has done almost three times as many question-and-answer sessions with reporters as his predecessor, and we continue to provide access to the press in a number of venues and formats every day.’
In the past, according to The Post, officials have sought to talk Trump down from his frustrations. Sanders herself is reported to have attempted that at one point, and former White House communications director Hope Hicks is reported to have done the same. Neither of them would comment when pressed by the publication.
In addition to the newly reported behind the scenes precedent for the action against Collins, there’s a public precedent too. Trump obviously routinely condemns the free press as “fake news” and the enemy of the American people in the time since he’s taken office.
Before he won the election, he banned a whole array of mainstream outlets from getting credentials to cover his campaign. That ban — which outlets persevered through by attending rallies in the crowd — was lifted in September 2016.
Through all of the president’s attacks, members of the press just keep doing their jobs. Collins’ line of questioning that so irked the administration earlier this week simply covered news that the president himself has addressed multiple times on Twitter. Her questioning included coverage of the break in his relationship with his former lawyer Michael Cohen, who recently released a tape of a conversation he had with Trump about buying up someone’s story who said she had an affair with him. In similar fashion, the press will continue to work to do its job through future attacks from the Trump administration.
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