“We would like to see all campaign events open to the public and the full press corps, but when that is not possible we have agreed to pool coverage,” reads a statement by media organizations including the New York Daily News, Politico, New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe and Wall Street Journal. “We haven’t yet had a clear explanation about why the pool reporter for today’s events was denied access. But any attempt by the campaign to dictate who is in the pool is unacceptable.”
Clinton’s already strained relationship with the media worsened today after David Martosko of the Daily Mail, the designated pool reporter for the day was twice denied access to cover Clinton’s campaign events.
“You need to leave,” a campaign aide told Martosko when he tried to cover a Clinton speech at a dinner hosted by Manchester Democrats, according to the pool report Martosko sent out.
He had already been refused entry to an event in Rochester earlier today.
Because of the size of the media pack that covers Clinton, the campaign restricts some small-scale events as “pool only,” where one or two reporters are designated to cover and then dispatch reports to all other media.
It’s the only 2016 presidential campaign to use such a system.
Until Monday, Clinton had only answered a handful of questions from the press, and over the weekend sat for her first interviews since she declared her candidacy in mid-April. Her near universal name recognition sets her apart from other political candidates who typically seek news coverage to promote their campaigns.
Martosko, spoke to Thatcher’s boss and then to Clinton campaign spokesman Nick Merrill.
“We’ve been getting a lot of blowback from foreign outlets that want to be part of the pool and we need to rethink it all, maybe for a day, and just cool things off until we can have a discussion,” Merrill told Martosko, according to his pool report.
But after Martosko told Merrill that other foreign outlets like U.K-based Guardian are part of the pool, the aide claimed that the Daily Mail was being blocked because it is not part of the White House’s regular presidential press pool rotation.
“We’re just trying to follow the same process and system the White House has,” Merrill said
Martosko told Merrill that the Daily Mail does have a reporter who has been vetted by the White House and has a hard pass to attend press briefings. Byron Tau, a reporter who covers the White House beat for the Wall Street Journal, noted that the Daily Mail’s White House reporter is part of the supplemental pool rotation.
Merrill reiterated that the decision to ban Martosko from the event had “nothing to do” with the Daily Mail’s foreign status and that “we don’t consider you foreign press.”
“This isn’t about you. It’s about a larger…,” Merrill said before trailing off, according to Martosko, who recorded his conversation with the spokesman.
“It’s my understanding that the pool wasn’t sending a reporter today,” Merrill added. Martosko replied, “the pool sent me and I’m here.”
Martosko has been one of the more vocal pool members speaking out about the campaign’s tight grip on the press. On Saturday, after Clinton re-launched her campaign during a speech in New York, Martosko posted a tweet criticizing how other reporters have covered the event.
The Daily Mail also released a statement confirming the incident and stating that it is seeking an explanation from the Clinton campaign.
“We can confirm that David Martosko, U.S. Political Editor, DailyMail.com was today denied access to Hillary Clinton’s campaign event and was prohibited from boarding a van that the Clinton campaign is using to transport pool reporters around New Hampshire,” said a Daily Mail spokesman.
“We are seeking an explanation from the Clinton campaign as to why this occurred as Mr. Martosko was scheduled to be the designated print pool reporter in New Hampshire this morning.”
Clinton took questions from the press Monday for nearly 20 minutes, by far the lengthiest press availability she has had so far.
Frosty relations between the press and the Clintons go back to two decades to Bill Clinton’s first term in the White House. Hillary Clinton describes clashes with the media over the White House Travel Office, the death of Vince Foster, Clinton’s impeachment among other flaps in her biography “Living History.” During her 2008 presidential campaign reporters were regularly reamed by Clinton press aides.
The current Clinton team press team has until now forged a more respectful relationship with the press. But access to the candidate for journalists and voters has been mostly non-existent. Clinton’s team has said she will do more open events and interviews now that the campaign had its launch rally in New York.
Clinton held a public event in Iowa over the weekend her first in that state. Speaking to a group of about 70 supporters in Burlington on Sunday evening, Clinton addressed some of the concerns activists have voiced about access to her.
“I know people are anxious to get to the razzle dazzle and the big rallies all of that,” she said. “But I want to hear people. I want to know what is actually happening so that I can come up with proposals that may actually change people’s lives.”
The pool itself is organized by the 14 media organizations that released the statement, not the Clinton campaign.