Trump Campaign Pulls Press Credentials for Bloomberg News Reporters

WASHINGTON (CN) – The Trump campaign Monday revoked press credentials for Bloomberg News reporters after the news organization stood by its decision not to investigate its namesake founder, Mike Bloomberg, or other Democratic candidates running against the incumbent Republican president in 2020.

The chilling of the news organization’s access, according to a statement Monday from President Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale, will extend to Trump’s rallies or “other campaign events.”

Bloomberg announced its decision not to investigate owner and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg on Nov. 24, the same day the billionaire announced his intent to run against Trump as a Democrat.

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks with members of the media at the Bridge Way School in Philadelphia in November 2018. With Bloomberg now running for president, the news service that bears his name said it will not “investigate” him or any of his Democratic rivals. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

“We will write about virtually all aspects of this presidential contest in much the same way as we have done so far,” Bloomberg’s editor-in-chief John Micklethwait said last month. “We will describe who is winning and who is losing. We will look at policies and their consequences. We will carry polls, we will interview candidates and we will track their campaigns, including Mike’s.”

Parscale described the Bloomberg News decision as “troubling and wrong,” as well as indicative of the company’s intent to “formalize preferential reporting policies.”

The campaign’s decision to bar Bloomberg reporters triggered a response in kind from the Republican Party.

Ronna McDaniel, the party’s chairwoman, took to Twitter Tuesday to condemn the news organization.

“Media outlets should be independent and fair and this decision proves that Bloomberg News is neither,” McDaniel tweeted. “The GOP stands with Team Trump and will no longer credential Bloomberg representatives.”

When Bloomberg announced the debut of his 2020 presidential campaign in late November, Micklethwait confirmed that a reporter was already assigned to follow Bloomberg’s campaign.

It would be in 2020 exactly as it was when Bloomberg ran for mayor years ago, Micklethwait said in an email sent to staff last month.

“And in all the stories we write on the presidential contest, we will make clear that our owner is now a candidate,” Micklethwait wrote.

Should Bloomberg receive the Democratic nomination, Micklethwait said the news organization would consider revisiting its policy of not investigating the candidate.

On Monday, the Bloomberg News editor-in-chief rebuffed assertions from the Trump campaign and the GOP that its coverage of the president was unfair.

“The accusation of bias couldn’t be further from the truth,” Micklethwait said. “We have covered Donald Trump fairly and in an unbiased way since he became a candidate in 2015 and will continue to do so despite the restrictions imposed by the Trump campaign.”

On Monday night, the president – who is embroiled in an impeachment inquiry moving at full tilt in Washington while currently in London for NATO talks – found time on Twitter to hurl insults at Bloomberg and his news organization.

“Mini Mike Bloomberg has instructed his third rate news organization not to investigate him or any Democrat, but to go after President Trump only,” Trump tweeted, referring to himself in the third-person. “The Failing New York Times thinks that is O.K. because their hatred & bias is so great they can’t even see straight. It’s not O.K.!”

In a statement Monday, the Freedom of the Press Foundation lamented what amounts to the predictability of the move by the Trump administration to limit press access.

“At this point it is widely understood that Trump and his campaign will call most any coverage they disagree with ‘fake news,’” said Parker Higgins, director of special projects at the press advocacy group. “But to extend that name-calling to denying journalists access – and to do so in advance, based solely on editorial statements – is an unsettling incursion into even darker territory for the free press.”

Trump’s disdain for unfriendly media coverage is well known. In June 2016, the Trump campaign denied credentials to the Washington Post and bounced other reporters from outlets such as BuzzFeed News, Politico and the Huffington Post from covering events.

And last year, Trump barred CNN reporter Jim Acosta from the White House. Trump took umbrage with Acosta’s questioning during a press conference and snatched the reporter’s credentials in short order, ultimately triggering a legal battle in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly – a Trump-appointed Republican – ruled in favor of Acosta and restored the reporter’s press credentials.

Several other outlets over the last few years have seen their access chilled, including The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times. Both organizations were denied access to informal White House briefings, even when the meetings were not televised. 

Parscale did not respond to a request for comment Monday night about the specific nature of the ban on Bloomberg.

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