Donald Trump erects the great wall around foreign journalists

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: Apr 29, 2016 18:14 IST
US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a campaign rally at Crosby High School, in Waterbury, Connecticut. (REUTERS)

Long before Donald Trump could build a wall along the border to keep out illegal immigrations, if he ever gets to do so, he has erected one around his campaign to keep out foreign journalists.

This reporter has been turned down thrice requests for media credentials to his political events, rallies and victory parties, two of them just the past week during the battle for his home state New York.

Many other foreign journalists have been turned down as well — including those from China, Germany and Holland — but there may well be some exceptions, which could not be confirmed. The campaign is not coy about this, and says, up front— a trait it probably gets from its straight-shooting candidate— it prefers local media to those from abroad. Period.

Here is what the campaign said rejecting this reporter’s media credential request for attending the victory event on April 19 at the tycoon’s ritzy Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan: “During the 2016 Presidential Primary race, the Donald J. Trump Campaign fully recognizes and respects foreign media but due to various venue sizes, media space and safety, we must limit the number of credentialed media and give priority to our national and local outlets. We appreciate your understanding.”

This reporter did manage to attend Trump’s victory event in Spartanburg for the South Carolina primaries in February on a general ticket, which is available to anyone who RSVPs. The difference is mostly in the waiting time to enter the venue — the general admission lines can be long and start forming way before the doors open; four hours in Spartanburg.

The Trump campaign is well within its rights to choose who it allows to its events and who it doesn’t; these are private — and not public — events after all, as it has said in a different context.

And the campaign probably does get more media credential requests than it can handle on an average day, given the attention the Republican front runner is getting around the world.

That’s what it said denying this reporter credentials for the Spartanburg event: “With the abundance of requests for media credentials, we have to take proactive measures with our credentialing process to ensure the success of each event.”

And it threw in the stock riff that it “respects” foreign media but must “give priority to our national and local outlets”.

But the media enclosure that night looked nowhere as packed as the campaign claimed. It had the regular television news crews and print reporters, but there were plenty of vacant seats around. A police officer tried to help saying, “You can easily be there … even without credentials.” But the general enclosure proved to be a better hunting ground for quotes from his supporters.

And there wasn’t much to the campaign’s position on safety and security. The Secret Service that now protects Trump is used to foreign media around others it protects. Foreign journalists are free to travel with the secret service’s most important protectee, the US president, if their organizations can afford the steep cost of travel and stay.

The secret service also has no problem with foreign media cover the other candidates it protects — all of them at this stage of the race now. The Clinton campaign confirmed credential requests for this reporter multiple times, without any question — twice during the recent primaries in New York, also her home-state.

Clinton’s rival Bernie Sanders also has no problems with foreign media and this reporter has attended some of his rallies.

The other Republicans in the race have had no issues either. This reporter has attended political rallies of Ted Cruz, who is now placed second, and Marco Rubio, who’s since dropped out.

Trump, on the other hand, is a different story altogether.

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