Media outlets highlighted a pattern of “physical run-ins” Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump's campaign has had with journalists after his campaign manager allegedly “forcibly grabbed” a reporter following a press conference. The Trump campaign also has a history of seeking to impede journalists and undermine freedom of press.
Trump Campaign Manager Reportedly “Gets Rough” With Journalist
Politico: Trump Campaign Manager “Forcibly Yanked” Reporter After Trump Press Conference. Politico reported on March 9 that Breitbart News reporter Michelle Fields was “forcibly grabbed” by Donald Trump's campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to “mov[e] her out of the way” while she “was attempting to ask Trump a question as he exited [a] press conference.” According to Politico, “Fields was clearly roughed up by the move”:
Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski forcibly yanked Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields out of the way after his press conference in Florida on Tuesday night.
Fields was attempting to ask Trump a question as he exited the press conference. Secret Service was starting to clear a path, when Fields was forcibly grabbed on her arm by Lewandowski, moving her out of the way and nearly bringing her down to the ground, a source who witnessed the situation told POLITICO.
Fields was clearly roughed up by the move, the witness said.
Breitbart News CEO and president Larry Solov said in a statement if it was Lewandowski, he owes her an apology.
“It's obviously unacceptable that someone crossed a line and make physical contact with our reporter. What Michelle has told us directly is that someone ”grabbed her arm" and while she did not see who it was, Ben Terris of the Washington Post told her that it was Corey Lewandowski. If that's the case, Corey owes Michelle an immediate apology," Solov said. [Politico, 3/9/16]
Media Highlight Trump Campaign's History Of Physical Confrontations With Journalists
Politico: “Trump Campaign And Its Security Has Had Several Physical Run-Ins With The Press” In Recent Months. Politico's March 9 report on Lewandowski's alleged confrontation with Fields noted that Trump's campaign has had several physical run-ins with the press and protesters. Politico specifically highlighted an incident in which “Time photographer Chris Morris was placed in a choke-hold and slammed onto a table”:
The Trump campaign and its security has had several physical run-ins with the press and protesters over the past few months and Trump rallies. Most recently, Time photographer Chris Morris was placed in a choke-hold and slammed onto a table during a rally in Virginia after he attempted to step outside of the press pen to photograph some protesters. The Department of Homeland Security inspector general is currently investigating the incident. [Politico, 3/9/16]
Washington Post's Callum Borchers: “Breitbart Reporter Is Latest Victim Of The Wild Media Environment Created” By Trump Campaign. The Washington Post reporter Callum Borchers wrote on March 9 that the Fields encounter was “vaguely reminiscent” of other altercations and that Trump's “bullying style” toward journalists should make voters “consider whether his approach to media relations is an acceptable approach to running the country”:
Now comes Tuesday's run-in with Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields, which might not have featured Trump as the main offender but was clearly a result of the culture he has created in his campaign.
The incident was vaguely reminiscent of a violent altercation at a Trump rally in Radford, Va., last week, where a Secret Service agent grabbed a Time magazine photographer by the neck and took him to the ground. The photographer, Chris Morris, had tried to step outside the “press pen” to take a picture and cursed at the agent when told to stay in place.
Tuesday's encounter between Lewandowski and Fields was clearly less extreme, but the fact that a top Trump staffer would physically accost a journalist from Breitbart, of all places, highlights the extent of his campaign's volatility. Breitbart has been a major cheerleader for the billionaire real estate mogul, a role The Washington Post's Paul Farhi described well when he wrote about the popular conservative new site in January.
As I've written before, journalists aren't very sympathetic victims in the eyes of many Trump supporters; we get it. But it's really not about the media. It's about Trump's bullying style -- which always rears its head, sooner or later, despite his attempts to suppress it.
Voters need to consider whether his approach to media relations is an acceptable approach to running the country. [The Washington Post, 3/9/16]
Huffington Post: Confrontation “Is The Latest In String Of Allegations Of Hostility Toward Reporters Trying To Cover Events.” The Huffington Post reported on March 9 that the incident with Fields “fits a pattern in which the Trump campaign has tried exerting tight control over the media,” writing that Trump's campaign staff “has been the most hostile toward the press this election cycle, with some reporters barred and ejected from events”:
The idea of Lewandowski grabbing a reporter from Breitbart News may seem surprising, given that the conservative website is considered one of the most supportive of the reality TV star's candidacy. But such a response fits a pattern in which the Trump campaign has tried exerting tight control over the media.
The real estate mogul's team has been the most hostile toward the press this election cycle, with some reporters barred and ejected from events. The campaign has also forced journalists to remain in a “press pen” to restrict their movements while Trump is speaking.
Last month, a Secret Service agent roughed up a Time magazine photographer after he left the pen to cover protesters at a rally. It's not the role of the Secret Service to enforce the campaign's press restrictions, but agents, at times, have appeared to do just that. The Secret Service is still investigating the incident.
Lewandowski has personally tried to stop journalists from covering protesters at Trump events, which are a frequent occurrence.
In November, Lewandowski threatened to blacklist CNN reporter Noah Gray for leaving the pen to report on an incident in the crowd. [The Huffington Post, 3/9/16]
Daily Caller's Matt Lewis: Trump “Stokes” Confrontations With Journalists And Is “Controlling The Media.” On the March 9 edition of CNN's CNN Newsroom, The Daily Caller's Matt Lewis said that Trump was “controlling the media” and explained that “this mentality is concerning, especially if you are concerned about journalism”:
MATT LEWIS: I think that this is indicative of a larger point. It's not just controlling protesters. It's controlling the media. It is Trump sort of exerting his alpha male authoritarian status. And we're going to see more of this. Because I think he stokes this. And this mentality is concerning, especially if you are concerned about journalism. [CNN, CNN Newsroom, 3/9/16]
IJ Review: “This Isn't The First Time A Reporter Has Been Roughed Up At A Trump Campaign Event.” The Independent Journal Review highlighted on March 9 previous reports of journalists being “roughed up” at Trump campaign events, including “a TIME photographer being 'choke-slammed'” and “accounts from multiple Trump campaign reporters who have been verbally accosted”:
This isn't the first time a reporter has been roughed up at a Trump campaign event.
Independent Journal Review provided exclusive video of a TIME photographer being “choke-slammed” by a Secret Service agent after attempting to leave the Trump campaign-enforced press pen:
The Washington Post has also reported accounts from multiple Trump campaign reporters who have been verbally accosted by Trump, their campaign, and their followers at campaign events.
The Week: “Trump Campaign May Have Just Roughed Up Another Reporter.” [Independent Journal Review, 3/9/16]
Trump Campaign Has A History Of Obstructing Journalists And Seeking To Undermine Freedom Of Press
Donald Trump Promises To Sue The Media For Negative Stories About Him If He's Elected President. During a February 26 press conference, Trump said he would “open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money” (emphasis added):
DONALD TRUMP: I'll tell you what, I think the media is among the most dishonest groups of people I've ever met. They're terrible. The New York Times, which is losing a fortune, which is a failing newspaper, which probably won't be around that much longer, but probably somebody will buy it as a trophy, keep it going for a little longer. But I think The New York Timesis one of the most dishonest media outlets I've ever seen in my life. The worst, the worst. The absolute worst. They have an agenda that you wouldn't believe. And they're run by incompetent people. They are totally incompetently run. Washington Post, I have to tell you, I have respect for Jeff Bezos, but he bought The Washington Post to have political influence and I got to tell you, we have a different country than we used to have. We have a different -- He owns Amazon. He wants political influence so that Amazon will benefit from it. That's not right. And believe me, if I become president, oh, do they have problems. They're going to have such problems. And one of the things I'm going to do, and this is only going to make it tougher for me, and I've never said this before, but one of the things I'm going to do if I win -- and I hope I do and we're certainly leading -- is I'm going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money. We're going to open up those libel laws. So that when The New York Times writes a hit piece, which is a total disgrace, or when The Washington Post, which is there for other reasons, writes a hit piece, we can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because they're totally protected. You see, with me, they're not protected because I'm not like other people but I'm not taking money. I'm not taking their money. So we're going to open up those libel laws folks and we're going to have people sue you like you never got sued before. [CNN, 2/26/16]
Trump Ordered Univision's Jorge Ramos Removed From Press Conference. At an August 25 Iowa press conference, Trump “motioned to one of his bodyguards, who walked across the room and physically removed” Univision anchor Jorge Ramos after Ramos tried to ask a question about Trump's immigration policy:
“Mr. Trump, I have a question,” said Jorge Ramos, the top news anchor at Univision and one of the country's most recognizable Mexican-Americans, as he stood up in the front row of journalists.
“Excuse me,” the Republican presidential front-runner told Ramos. “Sit down. You weren't called. Sit down.”
Ramos, holding a piece of paper, calmly tried to ask Trump about his plan to combat illegal immigration. “I'm a reporter, an immigrant, a senior citizen,” he said. “I have the right to ask a question.”
Trump interrupted him. “Go back to Univision,” he said. Then the billionaire businessman motioned to one of his bodyguards, who walked across the room and physically removed Ramos from the room.
But moments later, Ramos returned to his seat in the front row -- and Trump called on him. For five minutes, they tangled over immigration policy, an issue on which both men have passionately different views. It was one of the more compelling moments of the 2016 campaign. [The Washington Post, 8/25/15]
Reporter Said Trump's Campaign Made Journalists Pledge Not To Speak To His Supporters. On the December 15 edition of the The Sean Hannity Show, WSB Radio's Jamie Dupree reported that officials for Donald Trump's presidential campaign made reporters promise not to speak to any of the GOP candidate's supporters at a campaign event that once again was interrupted by protests and marked by the physical ejection of demonstrators:
JAIME DUPREE: Now one other quick story. Last night when we were at the Trump rally, we were in this media area, they roped us off, and we were not allowed to go out and interview Trump supporters during the event. But after it was over, the Trump people refused to let us out. It was forty-five minutes after the event had ended and we were still not being allowed to leave.
SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Was that just the media people?
DUPREE: Yeah, the news reporters, unless we promised that we would not try to interview any Donald Trump supporters at the event. First time I've ever seen anything like that. It was very odd.
HANNITY: Actually, I find that highly entertaining because, you know what, the media is not exactly held in high esteem anymore in this country. That's hilarious.
DUPREE: I know, but the thing is, literally I had to pledge that I was going to walk to the door because I wanted to go back to my hotel to write my stories.
DUPREE: When all I had to do was walk out that door and there were about three hundred Donald Trump supporters out there that I could have interviewed if I wanted to, but there's a real sort of behind-the-scenes battle going on between the Trump people who are being overly aggressive with shutting down the news media. [Premiere Radio Network, The Sean Hannity Show, 12/15/15]
Media Matters: Trump Is “Mainstreaming The Manhandling Of The Press.” On January 20, Media Matters detailed how the Trump campaign has bullied the press, noting the numerous instances in which Trump and his campaign have threatened, mocked, barred, or physically removed journalists from campaign events. According to Media Matters:
Covering Trump today means being confined to metal barrier press pens at events. It means rarely being allowed to ask the candidate questions and being the target of vicious insults from the candidate and his fans. (One CBS reporter covering a rally was recently asked by a Trump supporter if he was taking pictures on behalf of ISIS.)
Trump and his campaign push the press around at will and they pay no real price. If anything, Trump gets showered with more press attention despite calling out reporters as “scum”; despite denouncing them as liars and cheats at his campaign rallies. [Media Matters, 1/20/16]