Far-right media have received press passes from the Trump campaign, while mainstream reporters have been denied access

The campaign has seemingly retaliated against mainstream reporters who cover Trump critically, while rewarding conspiracy theorists and extremist sycophants with press access to events

Vanity Fair recently reported that several journalists from mainstream publications, including The Washington Post, NBC News, Axios, and Vanity Fair, were denied press access to Trump’s campaign events, seemingly in retaliation for their previous critical coverage. Meanwhile, Media Matters found that the campaign has granted press credentials to the QAnon-promoting MG Show and Brenden Dilley, a podcaster who has promoted the QAnon conspiracy theory and leads a “meme team” that creates pro-Trump content.

Washington Post reporter Isaac Arnsdorf has allegedly been barred from Trump’s campaign events since February, according to Vanity Fair, over his rejection of a campaign request to change the title of his book Finish What We Started: The MAGA Movement’s Ground War to End Democracy. Several other reporters also allegedly had press access revoked over critical coverage or public spats with campaign officials. Vanity Fair reported:

In recent weeks, the [Trump] campaign has taken similar punitive measures against other reporters, according to multiple sources familiar with the moves. An Axios reporter had their credentials approved for an event and then revoked the same day, following the publication of a story about the Trump-led Republican National Committee’s struggles in swing states. (An Axios spokesperson declined to comment.) At least one other Post reporter was temporarily denied press credentials to multiple events after accurately reporting on Trump’s public statements. Most recently, Brian Stelter, a special correspondent for Vanity Fair, was denied press access to Trump’s rally in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania.

While it has barred mainstream journalists, the campaign has granted press credentials to a QAnon-promoting show and a podcaster who creates pro-Trump content.

At least one host of the QAnon-promoting podcast MG Show was seemingly given a press pass for Trump’s December 17 campaign rally in Reno, Nevada. Days before the rally, co-host Shannon Townsend announced on the podcast that after seeking press passes for the rally, the show was granted the status of “accredited media with Donald Trump and the rally campaign.” Afterward, Townsend posted images from the rally, including one that appears to show him holding a press pass in a media area.

Townsend tweet Reno rally

In response to reporter Brian Stelter posting on April 19, “I applied for press credentials for Trump's most recent rally in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania and was rejected,” Townsend shared an image of his credentials for the Nevada rally, and said, “I have mine.”

Townsend press credentials post_20240421

MG Show had previously received press credentials for a 2021 Trump rally in Sarasota, Florida, at which host Townsend wore a wristband with the QAnon slogan “where we go one, we go all” — or “WWG1WGA” for short — and led a crowd in chanting the slogan. The Trump campaign was forced to publicly distance itself from QAnon and MG Show after receiving backlash for credentialing the conspiracy theorists. 

In January, Brenden Dilley, a podcaster who has previously promoted the QAnon conspiracy theory, bragged that he was given press credentials for the Trump campaign's Iowa caucus event.

Dilley has been the leader of a pro-Trump online “meme team” which calls itself “Trump’s Online War Machine,” and he has admitted that he “make[s] shit up” to further Trump’s agenda and hurt his political opponents. During an episode of his show, Dilley displayed the press pass, bragging that he got a “special” and “exclusive” press credential that got him into the “Trump War Room,” where he said “pretty much the entire Team Trump comes through.”

Video file

Citation From the January 17, 2024, edition of The Dilley Show, streamed on Rumble

Barring mainstream journalists from campaign rallies and other events is hardly new for the Trump team. During his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump and his allies waged an all-out war on the press, including banning certain journalists from events, and attacking critical coverage and entire mainstream news outlets as “fake news.”

Trump's presidential term was also marked by repeated instances where mainstream journalists were barred from official events and press conferences over unflattering coverage and unwanted questions. And his reelection campaign also reportedly issued a blanket credential denial against Bloomberg News over the outlet’s perceived “bias” against him.