WASHINGTON — In his latest volley against the free press, President Donald Trump on Wednesday suggested that reporters have their credentials revoked for reporting negative news about him, calling such reporting “fake.”
In a tweet, Trump complained that “despite the tremendous success we are having with the economy & all things else,” most of the network news about him is “negative (Fake).”
“Why do we work so hard in working with the media when it is corrupt?” Trump went on to ask, adding: “Take away credentials?”
Reporters require credentials to access the White House grounds and cover the president’s official and re-election campaign events.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders, however, insisted the administration is “very committed to a free press” and demonstrates that commitment through near-daily press briefings and access to the president.
“The fact that I’m standing here taking questions, the fact that the president took questions from your colleagues just two hours ago demonstrates this White House’s commitment to accessibility, and to providing information to the American public,” she said. “At the same time, the press has a responsibility to put out accurate information.”
Since the early days of his candidacy, Trump has railed against the media, going as far as to call it “the enemy of the people.” He has also mused about changing libel laws to make it easier to sue reporters for inaccurate stories (though he has no such authority) and has blamed reporters for his low approval ratings.
During his campaign, Trump also barred reporters from certain news organizations, including The Washington Post and the Des Moines Register, from covering his rallies and news conferences in a move that was widely condemned by advocates for a free press.
In a statement, White House Correspondents’ Association president Margaret Talev said that “just because the president does not like news coverage does not make it fake.”
“A free press must be able to report on the good, the bad, the momentous and the mundane, without fear or favor. And a president preventing a free and independent press from covering the workings of our republic would be an unconscionable assault on the First Amendment,” she said.
Trump has held just one formal solo press conference since his inauguration — a break from historical precedent — and Sanders’ briefings tend to be far shorter than her predecessors’.
But Sanders noted the Trump White House has also been applauded by journalists for allowing frequent access to the president in “pool sprays” covered by a rotating group of reporters.
Trump also frequently engages reporters in more informal settings, including when he departs the White House for trips and in impromptu question-and-answer sessions aboard Air Force One.