Hillary Rodham Clinton's long-frosty relationship with the media hit another icy patch in New Hampshire on Monday when campaign officials told major news organizations that certain reporters were not welcome at the candidate’s events.
The episode left the national print media unrepresented at a Clinton appearance Monday morning, escalated bitter feelings between the campaign and the journalists covering it, and created juicy fodder for the Daily Mail, the British tabloid which was at the center of the dispute.
Since the start of Clinton's presidential bid, her campaign has staged most events in small venues that can't accommodate the large number of reporters following her. The campaign early on asked the press corps to establish and run a pool system in which a small group of reporters would cover such events and file reports that all reporters could share. The pool duty rotates among a group of roughly 14 news organizations that have committed to send a reporter when their turn comes.
Monday, that turn fell to the Daily Mail. The campaign did not approve. Campaign aides told the paper's reporter, David Martosko, that he would not be allowed into the day's pooled events.
Campaign spokespeople insisted the problem wasn't Martosko’s journalism – the Mail has not been easy on Clinton – but its status as a news organization based overseas. The campaign is still sorting out when and where foreign news organizations should be granted access to events, they said.
But to many reporters, the campaign was crossing a line. The Daily Mail is just one of several foreign-owned news organizations in the pool, which also includes the Guardian and the Financial Times, both based in London, and the Agence France Presse newswire. No objections had been raised to their participation in the past.
Moreover, the pool arrangement is designed to keep campaign officials out of the business of deciding which reporters can represent the media at what events.
For Martosko, it was as if the journalism gods were smiling on him. The tabloid reporter is known for his breathless dispatches from the road, trailing Clinton’s entourage and clocking the dangerously fast pace with which her vans fly down country roads.
Getting locked out of the pool made for a spicy story -- noticeably more interesting than the routine event he had been denied access to.
He filed pool reports detailing each interaction he had with the campaign, including one in which a Secret Service agent told him to "hit the woods" when he asked if he could enter the building where an event was being held in order to use the restroom.
New Hampshire Republicans also enjoyed the show. "Hillary Clinton continues to run a secretive campaign that limits access to the press and to the public because she doesn't want to answer questions about her failed record," the state Republican Party said in a statement. "Clinton's secretive campaign is based on a clear sense of entitlement and arrogance, and it undermines New Hampshire's tradition of open and accessible campaigning."
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