This week, Trump lifted his ban on about a dozen media organizations he had barred from his news conferences and campaign events. One of the first of the media organizations to be banned was the Des Moines Register, whose reporters were blacklisted from his events after the paper ran an editorial urging him to drop out. Lynn Hicks, Opinion Editor at the Des Moines Register, says Trump’s decision was unexpected because the opinion section and newsroom are completely separate entities with a "firewall" between them.
“We didn’t do this lightly. It did obviously have an impact that we didn’t expect in that he ‘barred’ us. I put that in quotations because it was arbitrarily enforced.”
That arbitrary enforcement means that this lifting of the ban won’t have much of an effect.
“This barring never stopped our news side from covering his campaign. There were also cases where his campaign did credential our reporters. He gave an interview to our political columnist Kathie Obradovich after this happened. … So you’d never know whether you were going to get in or not.”
Tim Walch, presidential historian and retired director of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, says that contentious relations between presidential candidates and the media are nothing new.
“Virtually every president from George Washington on has had a troubled relationship with the press. With Donald Trump, it’s distinctive in part because he relies so heavily on the press for news coverage.”
The difference between then and now, Walch says, is how openly hostile Trump is towards the press.
“There’s been a real sea change under Donald Trump in terms of this personal, vindictive style in attacking the press.”
In this hour of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with Hicks and Walch about the nature of media-presidential candidate relations.
Also in this program, we listen back to a conversation Ben Kieffer had in 2011 with Randy Hall who reflected on his father’s death, 10 years after September 11th.