NEWSPAPER’S RESPONSE: “WE’RE PROUD OF OUR COVERAGE”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jun. 13, 2016) — On his Twitter account on Monday afternoon, Republican presidential candidate and presumptive nominee tweeted, “Based on the incredibly inaccurate coverage and reporting of the record setting Trump campaign, we are hereby: https://www.facebook.com/DonaldTrump/posts/10157164117925725 …” which led to his Facebook page on which the statement finished with, “revoking the press credentials of the phony and dishonest Washington Post.”
Trump has taken issue with the mainstream media on many other occasions during the presidential primary season.
Also on Monday afternoon, The Washington Post published an article titled, “Donald Trump seems to connect President Obama to Orlando shooting” by Jenna Johnson. In her piece, Johnson quoted Trump’s remarks from a telephone interview with Fox News’s morning program, Fox & Friends, in which he criticized Obama for failing to take action on the threat of Islamic terrorism in the United States in the wake of the massacre of 49 people at an Orlando, FL nightclub on Sunday morning by a Muslim with radical ties.
The perpetrator, Omar Mateen, was killed by an Orlando SWAT team several hours after a 911 call went out in response to Mateen’s entry and firing upon nightclub patrons. More than 50 people were injured, some seriously, and have undergone emergency surgery at area hospitals.
The Post quoted Trump as having said to Fox & Friends:
Look, we’re led by a man that either is not tough, not smart, or he’s got something else in mind. And the something else in mind — you know, people can’t believe it. People cannot, they cannot believe that President Obama is acting the way he acts and can’t even mention the words ‘radical Islamic terrorism.’ There’s something going on. It’s inconceivable. There’s something going on.
This writer heard the interview and believes that Trump was quoted accurately.
Johnson then continued, “For months, Trump has slyly suggested that the president is not Christian and has questioned his compassion toward Muslims. Years ago, Trump was a major force in calls for the president to release his birth certificate and prove that he was born in the United States. On the campaign trail, Trump has repeatedly stated as fact conspiracy theories about the president, his rivals and Muslims, often refusing to back down from his assertions even when they are proven to be false.”
Johnson went on to relate that NBC’s Savannah Guthrie asked Trump in a later interview “to explain what he meant” in his comments to Fox, to which Trump responded:
Well there are a lot of people that think maybe he doesn’t want to get it. A lot of people think maybe he doesn’t want to know about it. I happen to think that he just doesn’t know what he’s doing, but there are many people that think maybe he doesn’t want to get it. He doesn’t want to see what’s really happening. And that could be.
“Guthrie asked Trump why that would be,” continued The Post’s article, “and the presumptive Republican presidential nominee responded: ‘Because Savannah, Savannah, why isn’t he addressing the issue? He’s not addressing the issue. He’s not calling it what it is. This is radical Islamic terrorism. This isn’t fighting Germany; this isn’t fighting Japan, where they wear uniforms.'”
Many commenters to the story expressed dislike of Trump, while some appear to support his candidacy and positions. One commenter calling himself “TheRealDonald” challenged the author by asking, “So in what way did he say that Obama ‘was involved’ in the terror attack?”
On Monday The Washington Post listed in its “Most Read” column articles titled “Trump blames Obama for Orlando shooting, blasts Clinton on immigration,” “After Orlando shooting, Donald Trump defiantly doubles down on, well, everything,” and “This new Utah poll is amazingly bad for Donald Trump.”
Under the heading “The Post Recommends” are listed articles titled, “This new Utah poll is amazingly bad for Donald Trump,” “The media isn’t going to save the country from Donald Trump. Here’s why,” and “Trump blames Obama for Orlando shooting, blasts Clinton on immigration,” two of which appeared under “Most Read,” as noted above.
This writer did not note similar coverage of Democrat presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton in either section.
On Trump’s Facebook page beneath his announcement to revoke The Post’s credentials, The Post & Email wrote, “I am a reporter for The Post & Email. Was there a specific incident which prompted the decision?” and will provide an update if a response is received.
In referencing Trump’s questioning of Obama’s claimed Christian faith, Johnson did not report that it was Obama himself who in 2008 first “suggested” that he is not a Christian. In an interview with ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos, Obama stated that his then-general election opponent, Sen. John McCain, had not made “my Muslim faith” a campaign issue. When Stephanopoulos was quick to “correct” Obama by responding with “your Christian faith,” Obama parroted, “my Christian faith.”
Whether or not McCain would presumably have made “an issue” of Obama’s faith if he were a Christian is an open question.
Johnson did not cite examples of her allegation that Trump “stated as fact conspiracy theories about the president, his rivals and Muslims, often refusing to back down from his assertions even when they are proven to be false,” although the claim followed her accurate statement that “Years ago, Trump was a major force in calls for the president to release his birth certificate and prove that he was born in the United States.”
Absent from Johnson’s reporting is that the long-form birth certificate image posted on the White House website in apparent response to Trump’s public calls over several months for Obama to release his detailed birth record was found to be a forgery by a law enforcement investigation more than four years ago.
The Maricopa County, AZ Cold Case Posse, under the direction of Sheriff Joseph Arpaio, declared Obama’s long-form birth certificate and Selective Service registration form to be “computer-generated forgeries” on March 1, 2012, which most mainstream outlets ignored or reported only on the internet with no follow-up investigations of their own.
As of this writing, the Cold Case Posse’s website appears to be down.
On the day the image was released, April 27, 2011, The Washington Post’s Nia-Malika Henderson reported, “Real estate mogul Donald Trump, a possible GOP presidential contender who recently placed himself at the forefront of the birther movement, took credit Wednesday for the release of President Obama’s long-form birth certificate, saying that he was ‘honored’ to have played such a big role in forcing the issue.”
Henderson then said that Obama is “a native of Hawaii” and that “Obama, a former constitutional law professor and the first black president of the Harvard Law Review, is widely recognized as an intellectual heavyweight” after Trump questioned how Obama was accepted to Harvard Law School when he was “not a good student” while allegedly attending Columbia University.
In contrast with Henderson and other mainstream reporters, The Post’s Eli Saslow inexplicably claimed in 2008 that Obama is a product of “growing up in the Kansas heartland,” not Hawaii and Indonesia, as his public biography states.
The Post & Email received an automated acknowledgement from The Washington Post to its inquiry asking why Saslow’s life narrative of Obama differed from Obama’s own but no other response.
A Reuters report on Trump’s decision to revoke The Washington Post’s press credentials quoted the campaign as having said, “They have no journalistic integrity and write falsely about Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump does not mind a bad story, but it has to be honest.”
For its own part, Reuters stated, “The Washington Post, based in the U.S. capital, is one the country’s the [sic] most influential newspapers and has one of the largest circulations.”
In response to the Trump decision, Washington Post Editor Marty Baron was reported to have said:
Donald Trump’s decision to revoke The Washington Post’s press credentials is nothing less than a repudiation of the role of a free and independent press.
When coverage doesn’t correspond to what the candidate wants it to be, then a news organization is banished. The Post will continue to cover Donald Trump as it has all along — honorably, honestly, accurately, energetically, and unflinchingly. We’re proud of our coverage, and we’re going to keep at it.
Reuters also revealed that Trump’s decision was made after Johnson’s article was originally published under the title, “Donald Trump suggests President Obama was involved with Orlando shooting.”
The url of the article as it stands now appears as https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2016/06/13/donald-trump-suggests-president-obama-was-involved-with-orlando-shooting/?tid=pm_politics_pop_b
While The Post & Email rarely comments on controversies involving the media and political candidates, the title Johnson first assigned her piece does not, in our view, accurately reflect Trump’s comments made to Fox & Friends.
Savannah Guthrie is the NBC reporter who covered the release of the long-form birth certificate image on April 27, 2011 and claimed that she had “seen and felt” a raised seal, presumably indicating the document’s authenticity, which Cold Case Posse lead investigator Mike Zullo claims does not exist.
Photos Guthrie took of the document at the time have since been removed from her social media account where they were posted.
Guthrie and other reporters did not respond to requests from this publication for a copy of the press kit they presumably received following the release of the long-form image on the White House website.
Update, 9:21 p.m. EDT: The Cold Case Posse website is now accessible.
Sharon Rondeau has operated The Post & Email since April 2010, focusing on the Obama birth certificate investigation and other government corruption news. She has reported prolifically on constitutional violations within Tennessee’s prison and judicial systems.