Trump Press Secretary’s Dirty Retaliation Secret Leaked To Washington Post


Sarah Huckabee Sanders is out at the White House, where she had been on since the early days of the Trump administration stumping for their position before the press. She’s being replaced as White House press secretary by previous First Lady spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham, and The Washington Post has now shared disturbing details about the way she treated journalists during similar previous work in Arizona. According to the publication, she repeatedly targeted a particular journalist and their publication in apparent retaliation for critical coverage they delivered of the Republican state House majority. She attempted to and at least at one point successfully cut off their access to lawmakers.

A key target was Hank Stephenson, who produced biting exposés for the Arizona Capitol Times of state Republican behavior like a January 2016 revelation that state House Speaker David Gowan had used state-owned vehicles to travel thousands of miles during a Congressional bid. Following Stephenson’s story, Gowan reimbursed the state for $12,000 — so this was no small issue. Grisham responded in April 2016 by implementing a demand for an “invasive” background check that covered the addresses, driving records, criminal and civil records and more of reporters who wanted access to lawmakers. If these reporters didn’t complete the background check, they’d get no access — and pointedly enough, one of the issues it set as disqualifying was a past conviction of misdemeanor trespassing. Stephenson pleaded guilty to that exact crime just a couple of years prior, making the targeting pretty clear.

Although after not a single reporter consented to the background check and even some state officials cried foul, the policy was rescinded, it’s not the only such step Grisham took.  Stephenson produced an early 2016 story outlining how House Speaker Gowan had approved more than $1 million worth of renovations at the state Capitol in the same budget that packed significant cuts to state agencies. In a possible sort of test-run of the eventual background check’s harshness, just hours after that story appeared, Grisham told Stephenson’s paper that they would, as a whole, no longer be allowed to be present to cover the opening day of the legislative session. The paper’s then-editor Jim Small claimed that Grisham “made no bones about the fact that the paper’s access had been pulled because of the story.”

These kinds of steps have been taken in the Trump White House already. After they didn’t like her line of questioning to the president, CNN’s Kaitlan Collins was banned from further events on a particular recent day.

The White House attempted to completely ban that same network’s Jim Acosta on the basis of the false charge that he’d been violent towards a staffer, but in the face of court challenges, they relented and reinstated his access.

There is the of course broader issue of President Donald Trump’s personal attacks on the media, which he has repeatedly referred to as “fake news” and the “enemy of the people,” drumming up hate against them at every turn. One of his supporters took his messages to heart when he sent bombs to high-profile interests like CNN that never actually detonated, although the threat was — and remains — clear.

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