The Free Press

June 22, 2018
WaPo: National Enquirer sent Trump stories to Michael Cohen before publication

(CNN)Executives from the National Enquirer provided President Donald Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen the opportunity to review articles and cover photos featuring Trump or his political opponents before they were published, according to The Washington Post.

The Post, citing three people with knowledge of the matter, said the tabloid sent digital pre-publication copies of articles and photos for review to Cohen during the 2016 presidential election and after Trump took office.
According to the Post, this practice was part of Trump’s close relationship with David Pecker, chairman of the Enquirer’s parent company, American Media Inc.
According to the Post, its sources spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear of legal or professional consequences for speaking about Trump and AMI.
“Since Trump’s become President and even before, [Pecker] openly just has been willing to turn the magazine and the cover over to the Trump machine,” said one of the Post’s sources.
During the campaign, “If it was a story specifically about Trump, then it was sent over to Michael, and as long as there were no objections from him, the story could be published,” the source said.
A Post source also said the Enquirer would sometimes receive requests for changes — generally requests for more flattering cover photos or altered headlines — in response to the pre-publication materials.
According to a Post source, Trump also suggested articles for the Enquirer “on a regular basis,” to Pecker directly or through Cohen or former communications adviser Hope Hicks. Hicks did not comment on the Post’s story.
In addition to articles about himself, Trump took a particular interest in articles about his opponent Hillary Clinton’s health, according to two Post sources. One source said he had the ability to review these articles before they were published.
Dylan Howard, AMI’s chief content officer, denied that Cohen and Trump received any advance copies of or notice about Enquirer articles, or had influence or input on the tabloid’s coverage.
Howard told the Post that, if materials were shared, “it was not at the behest of me or David. And quite frankly, if they were shared, I’m a little concerned, because people are acting as rogues and renegades.”
Pecker and Cohen did not comment on the Post’s story.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that AMI was subpoenaed by federal prosecutors as part of an investigation into Cohen.
When the FBI raided Cohen’s office and residences in early April, they sought — among other items — records of Cohen’s communications with AMI, Pecker, and Howard about two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump, three people familiar with the investigation told the Post.   Source


May 22, 2018
The Hill
Media push back against EPA limiting reporters at chemical summit

A number of media outlets are pushing back at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for limiting the reporters allowed to cover part of its chemical summit on Tuesday — including one reporter who says she was forcibly removed from the event.

Reporters from CNN, The Associated Press and E&E News were among a group of journalists barred from attending a two-day-long event kicked off at EPA headquarters Tuesday morning.

While a handful of reporters from publications including The Hill were personally invited to attend EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt‘s opening remarks and the first section of the panel, other outlets not invited were not allowed to attend the National Leadership Summit on Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), hazardous chemicals linked to cancer.

Media representatives in attendance included those from Politico, The Wall Street Journal and CBS.

Corbin Hiar, a reporter for E&E News, tweeted that he was not told why the reporters were “selectively” shut out of the meeting.

“This morning’s PFAS Leadership Summit at @EPA headquarters is open to the press… just not to reporters from @EENewsUpdates, @AP or @CNN. We’ve all asked the agency’s press office why we’re being selectively shut out and have gotten no responses,” he tweeted.

AP reporter Ellen Knickmeyer tweeted that the group of reporters were turned away at the door.

“The @AP, @CNN and E&E all showed up to cover this @EPA meeting on widespread, dangerous contaminants in many drinking water systems around the country. We were all turned away at the door of the EPA building.”

The AP later reported that guards blocked their reporter from entrance and grabbed the reporter by her shoulders to remove her from the building after she asked to speak to an EPA public affairs spokesperson.

When asked about the reporter’s removal, an EPA spokesperson at first cited space constraints.

“This was simply an issue of the room reaching capacity, which reporters were aware of prior to the event. We were able to accommodate 10 news outlets and provided a livestream for those we could not accommodate.” EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said in a statement.

However, a handful of assigned reporter seats remained vacant by the time Pruitt began speaking, including one for a Wall Street Journal reporter who decided to watch the event via the livestream instead. A seat marked for Hearst Media was left open. Another publication was invited to the event but declined to send a reporter after learning that Pruitt would not be taking questions. CBS was the only major news outlet recording the event on video from the back of the room.

EPA later announced Tuesday afternoon that reporters would now be able to attend in person the second half of the summitt, which ends at 5:30 p.m.

“EPA is opening the second portion of today PFAS Leadership Summit to press. The first portion was available via livestream. This will start at 1:00 PM and last until 5:30 PM and you can enter via the East Entrance on Pennsylvania Avenue NW,” an agency spokesperson said in a statement.

The meeting on Tuesday was significant due to the hot-button topic of PFAS as debate rages between the EPA and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) over acceptable levels of the chemicals in drinking water.

Reports last week indicated that the EPA is fearing a “public relations nightmare” following expected new recommendations from the Department of Health and Human Services that acceptable drinking water levels for PFAS are much lower than the EPA’s current standards.

ATSDR has not yet released its minimal risk level suggestions for PFAS found in drinking water. Pruitt said Tuesday that the EPA is expected to get its own targeted list out by the fall.

The chemical has been linked to thyroid disease and testicular cancer.

Reporters who were allowed to come to the event in the morning were also originally limited to only an hour of attendance. The entire summit spans two days. Journalists were at first not invited to stay through panel presentations, discussions and closing remarks regarding better regulating PFAS exposure and development of a cohesive federal standard.

EPA spokespeople maintained at the time that limiting reporter attendance was not in violation of the Federal Advisory Committees Act — which has a special emphasis on open meetings and public input.

“In this meeting, stakeholders will be providing their individual perspectives on these critical issues. This event is not subject to the requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act,” Wilcox said without delving into details why.

The agency has come under fire in the past for limiting reporter involvement. The administration did not invite reporters to the agency’s rollout of its new science transparency rule at the end of April at EPA headquarters. Earlier in the month Pruitt also avoided reporter scrutiny by barring most outlets from attending a highly anticipated announcement at the White House that the administration would be reconsidering Obama-era vehicle emission standards.

Pruitt rarely grants one-on-one interviews with reporters outside of right-wing media or local outlets. Additionally, reporters are rarely notified of Pruitt’s meeting and trips outside of D.C., frequently only learning of them through his Twitter account.  Source

May 22, 2018
President Trump told Lesley Stahl he bashes press ‘to demean you and discredit you so … no one will believe’ negative stories about him

  • President Donald Trump said he bashes the press to “demean” and “discredit” reporters so that no one will believe negative stories about him, “60 Minutes” journalist Lesley Stahl said Monday.
  • Stahl’s revelation came during a talk before the Deadline Club of New York, a group of journalists.
  • Stahl scored the first television interview with Trump after his 2016 election as president.

President Donald Trump told the veteran journalist Lesley Stahl of the CBS program “60 Minutes” that he bashes the press to “demean” and “discredit” reporters so that the public will not believe “negative stories” about him, Stahl said.

Stahl’s disclosure came Monday night during a talk at the Deadline Club of New York’s annual journalism awards at the Harvard Club in Manhattan.

The CBS reporter was speaking to the audience along with PBS NewsHour host Judy Woodruff.

Stahl said she and her boss met with Trump at his office in Trump Tower in Manhattan after the 2016 election in advance of a recorded sit-down interview for “60 Minutes.

“At one point, he started to attack the press,” Stahl said. “There were no cameras in there.”

“I said, ‘You know, this is getting tired. Why are you doing it over and over? It’s boring and it’s time to end that. You know, you’ve won … why do you keep hammering at this?'” Stahl recalled.

“And he said: ‘You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all so that when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you.'”

Lesley Stahl

Getty Images
Lesley Stahl

Stahl paused for a moment after quoting Trump to the assembled journalists.

“He said that,” Stahl noted.

“You do not want to give Jeff Bezos a seven-year head start.”
Hear what else Buffett has to say

“So, put that in your head for a minute. Yeah.”

Donald J. Trump


The Fake News is working overtime. Just reported that, despite the tremendous success we are having with the economy & all things else, 91% of the Network News about me is negative (Fake). Why do we work so hard in working with the media when it is corrupt? Take away credentials?


May 9, 2018
Trump’s latest shot at the press corps: ‘Take away credentials?’

President Trump has mused privately during his nearly 16 months in office about revoking reporters’ press credentials, according to multiple people familiar with his comments.

On Wednesday, he brought it up publicly, tweeting “take away credentials?” as a question.

If he intended to provoke a reaction, he succeeded. Some journalists expressed outrage at the idea. Others dismissed it as typical Trump bloviating.

The White House Correspondents’ Association, which represents the press corps, expressed concern about the tweet.

“Some may excuse the president’s inflammatory rhetoric about the media, but just because the president does not like news coverage does not make it fake,” the association’s president, Margaret Talev, said. “A free press must be able to report on the good, the bad, the momentous and the mundane, without fear or favor. And a president preventing a free and independent press from covering the workings of our republic would be an unconscionable assault on the First Amendment.”

Key words: “Would be.”

The White House has historically been permissive about press passes, erring on the side of greater access, even for obscure, partisan or fringe outlets. There are no indications that Trump is actually taking steps to change that.

But Wednesday’s comment showed his continued hostility toward the journalists who cover him.

“These authoritarian impulses of yours are anti-American,” former Office of Government Ethics director Walter Shaub, now a CNN contributor, tweeted in response.

Trump, apparently in venting mode, linked the “credentials” question to a complaint that network news coverage of his presidency is “negative (Fake).”

“He has a lack of understanding of how news coverage actually works, and unfortunately so do a lot of his supporters,” Maggie Haberman of The New York Times tweeted.

Trump’s question faced some criticism from one of his most powerful allies in conservative media. Matt Drudge, the founder of The Drudge Report, tweeted Wednesday morning, “I fear the future result of Trump’s crusade on ‘fake news’ will be licensing of all reporters.”

“The mop up on this issue is going to be excruciating,” added Drudge, who stays in regular contact with the White House, but who has fired a number of warning shots at the administration.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was asked about the credentials issue at Wednesday afternoon’s briefing.

“Is that a line you’d be willing to cross?” ABC’s Cecilia Vega asked.

Sanders did not directly answer the question, but she said “we’re very committed to a free press.”

In private, Trump sometimes grumbles about the press and grasps for possible penalties, like revoking credentials, according to the people familiar with his comments.

At times, the people said, Trump names individual reporters whose coverage he doesn’t like and feels is unfair to him, but more often he talks about blocking specific television networks or other outlets.

He has a history of doing this. During the presidential race, Trump’s campaign denied credentials to several news outlets, including The Washington Post, Univision, and Politico.

But he told CNN in a June 2016 interview that if elected, he would not kick reporters out of the White House. “When I’m representing the United States, I wouldn’t do that,” he said.

After the election, Trump aides like Steve Bannon continued to push proposals that would have inhibited the work of the White House press corps. But none of those ideas — like moving press briefings out of the West Wing — came to pass. A ban on television coverage of the briefings only lasted a few weeks.

Despite the president’s constant complaints about the media, journalists have given the administration generally high marks for access around the White House.

During Trump’s cabinet meeting on Wednesday morning, when the press pool was brought in for a photo op and a few questions, Yahoo’s Hunter Walker asked, “Will you ban press from the White House?” Trump did not answer.

But at the same cabinet meeting, he talked about the press covering the Americans who were released from North Korea on Wednesday. The three men are expected to arrive back in the United States early Thursday morning.

“It’ll be quite a scene,” Trump said.   Source

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