The editor of the Washington Post says President Trump’s latest insults against two Post reporters are “unwarranted and dangerous.”
Trump tweeted on Saturday morning that reporters Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker “shouldn’t even be allowed on the grounds of the White House.”
The comment suggested that Trump is still thinking about booting reporters from the White House, even though the administration has lost twice in court after stripping press passes from others.
Trump frequently blasts the Post and its owner, Jeff Bezos, which is a testament to the newspaper’s exclusive reporting and agenda-setting power.
His most recent complaints were prompted by a story titled “Trump’s lost summer: Aides claim victory, but others see incompetence and intolerance.”
Rucker and Parker’s article came out on Sunday evening and said some “Trump advisers and allies” felt like the president’s summer was defined by “self-inflicted controversies and squandered opportunities.”
The article included multiple on-the-record sources and a bevy of examples. The White House press office has pushed back forcefully, with a web video and an op-ed that tried to tout Trump’s recent accomplishments and events.
Trump pushed back personally on Saturday morning, calling Rucker and Parker “nasty lightweight reporters” who publish “DISGUSTING & FAKE” reporting.
In reality, the reporters are widely respected inside and outside the Post.
Rivals from other papers spoke up in their defense on Saturday. Peter Baker, the chief White House correspondent at The New York Times, said they’re “two of the absolute best. Smart, insightful and fearless. Read everything they write.”
The Post’s executive editor Marty Baron responded to Trump by saying the paper is “immensely proud to have these two superb journalists on staff. Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker have consistently demonstrated their integrity in covering the White House. We stand fully behind them and their important work.”
Baron added, “The president’s statement fits into a pattern of seeking to denigrate and intimidate the press. It’s unwarranted and dangerous, and it represents a threat to a free press in this country.”
The Trump administration has ended up in court twice in the past year after trying to remove individual reporters from the White House. Last November it was CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta, whose press pass was revoked without warning on the day after the midterm elections. This summer it was Playboy correspondent and CNN analyst Brian Karem, whose pass was suspended for 30 days following an altercation in the Rose Garden.
The reporters sued in both cases, seeking the immediate restoration of their access. Justice Department lawyers had to go to court and defend the White House’s actions. And in both cases, the Justice Department lost in court. A judge ruled in Karem’s favor just a few days ago.
Karem reacted to Trump’s comment about Rucker and Parker’s access by tweeting to Trump, “Twice you’ve been told in court you can’t pull credentials. When will you ever learn?”