Lucy Roth | Reporter
On Friday, Sept. 21, my sister, Clare, and I travelled almost four hours to report on President Trump’s rally in Springfield, Missouri. Clare is a reporter for the Columbia Missourian, and her editor required her to be granted press credentials for the event, if she wanted to cover it. She requested these credentials through a form on President Trump’s website on Tuesday, Sept. 18, when the Columbia Missourian was first contacted of the event. For three days, she waited on the press credentials to be granted to no avail. On the way to the event, she continued to refresh the page, but “pending” gleamed back at her.
She contacted other journalists from neighboring newspapers who had already been granted their credentials and was confused why she hadn’t. But more specifically, if the administration announced on Sept. 14 they would be in Springfield Sept. 21, why had it taken so long for such an outlet to get news of it?
Upon arriving at the event, a friend and I blended into the crowd while my sister went to find the press entrance. Though she didn’t have the official credentials, she was not going to give up. She eventually found the entrance, but was stopped by two Secret Service officials. They asked for her press pass, and after explaining her situation of the illogical pending request and essentially verbally berating the burly men, she was denied entry. All the while, I, a mere spectator, waited ten minutes, walked through security, and sat in the maroon and white suite.
Trump has a long history of challenging journalists throughout his presidency, and with the power he has to sway public opinion, many of his supporters are detesting journalists and calling the news they don’t particularly agree with “fake.”
The Denver Post’s Greg Dobbs admits to not being afraid to go abroad, and be “beaten, shot at, or even chased by a gang with machetes,” but is terrified of reporting a Donald Trump rally.
A journalist from The Guardian, Ben Jacobs was body-slammed by Greg Gianforte, a Republican candidate in a special House election, at a campaign event in Montana. Mr. Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault.
Dan Heyman, a freelancer for The New York Times, was arrested for, “aggressively trying to breach the security of the Secret Service,” and was “causing a disturbance by yelling questions.”
In a video released in March 2016, a Secret Service agent assaulted Christopher Morris who left a designated media area at a Donald Trump rally in Virginia. “I stepped 18 inches outside of the pen and he grabbed me by the neck and started choking me and slammed me to the ground,” Morris said.
Trump’s inappropriate comments and behavior toward journalism has only increased as tensions rise. The day after his inauguration, he told a crowd of intelligence officers he has “a running war with the media,” whose members he called “the most dishonest human beings on Earth.”
During inauguration week, the Trump International Hotel in Washington banned journalists from the building—Trump’s ownership of which is a controversy in its own right. After going a record-long span without press conferences, he used his first one to berate a CNN reporter, calling him “fake news.” His transition team said it was considering a plan to evict the media from their traditional roost in the White House press room.
He used one of his first post-election meetings with reporters and editors, held in Trump Tower in November, to insult their “outrageous” and “dishonest” coverage. After his electoral college victory, he used his Twitter platform to lambast The New York Times and the media in general for allegedly inciting protests. He broke protocol by traveling, on multiple occasions, without the customary pool of reporters.
“Trump might not be able to shut down The New York Times, but if he makes the Times untrustworthy for millions of Americans, that’s what he really banks on,” said Phillip Rucker, of the Washington Post.