Senior managers from five of the major news networks in the US have joined forces to lay out demands from Donald Trump's presidential campaign after the Republican's campaign officials threatened to "blacklist" journalists during rallies last week. Representatives from ABC News, CBS News, CNN, Fox and NBC News met on 23 November to discuss their responses to behaviour deemed restrictive by Trump's managers including top aide Corey Lewandowski.
According to The Washington Post, Lewandowski threatened to pull credentials of CNN reporter Noah Gray during Trump's campaign in Worcester, Massachusetts. Gray, who has covered Trump for months, attempted to leave the press pen when he recorded Lewandoski threatening to "blacklist" him from future events.
Fellow reporters Sopan Deb, from CBS News, and Ali Vitali, from NBC News, supported Gray's account of the rally events taking to Twitter to discuss their own interactions with Trump's campaign. "The Trump campaign is now forcing reporters to stay in a 'pen' the entirety of a rally. No talking to voters. Ramping up media control," Deb tweeted. "Was talking to voters before the event and told by members of #Trump staff to go back to designated media area," Vitali wrote.
At an event in Spartanburg, South Carolina, reporters fought against Lewandowski and Trump press secretary Hope Hicks on 20 November when they were threatened they would lose their credentials. Reporters attempted to interview supporters before Trump's speech but instead were ordered to return to the press area, which was surrounded by bicycle rack-like barriers. The Post reported that journalists defied Hicks's order to remain in the press pen as Trump greeted supporters.
Gray, who has covered several campaign stops and rallies, said he spoke to Secret Service agents assigned to the "press pen" if reporters were relegated to the pen for security reasons and was told it was not. According to the Post, Trump's campaign has enforced much tighter restrictions on the press than is routine for other candidates. Some reporters recount strained relations with Lewandowski, who retaliates against reporters he believes have crossed him by temporarily blacklisting them and assigning them to what he refers to as "the doghouse."
This runs in accordance to Trump's campaign decision to bar giving credentials to reporters from news organisations believed to be unfriendly to the campaign, including BuzzFeed, the Huffington Post, Fusion, Univision and the Des Moines Register.
The Washington Post reported that the five networks will attempt to show a united response to Trump's campaign during a conference call. The group will seek to reach an agreement on how the press area is managed, people knowledgable about the discussion told The Post. It will also seek to stop campaign officials from threatening to pull credentials or block network journalists.