Dan Janison has been a reporter at Newsday since 1997.
OK, so Donald Trump has barred several media organizations from his rallies and other staged events.
OK, so this is kind of unheard of for a national political campaign in the U.S.
OK, so it’s something you might see in an Eastern European dictatorship, or at least a town with a third-rate supervisor.More coverageThe 1600: Follow the race for the next presidentMore coverageThe 2016 campaign: Complete coverage
But in the world of the Queens-born real estate heir, this type of thing has become just another method of changing the story of the moment from the difficult one he didn’t like to one in which he gets to show he’s in charge.
The latest and biggest entry on The Donald’s press enemies list is The Washington Post, which said in an interpretive headline that Trump suggested President Barack Obama was complicit in the Orlando massacre.
Or at least that’s what Trump was purportedly piqued about. Who knows? Maybe he was more upset by stories about his failed businesses.
This week, for example, the Post described how Trump drew fat expenses from one of his companies, the defunct DJT, while small investors lost money on it.
Trump has already developed quite a body of work in the area of attacking news media, along with attacking his opponents.
His early mockery of Fox News’ Megyn Kelly for posing debate questions that made him uncomfortable created a distraction. She was asking about his alleged pattern of degrading women. Nobody will remember how he actually answered, which may be the point. It all became a soap opera.
Univision anchor Jorge Ramos was pushed out of a news conference by Trump’s security personnel because he wouldn’t sit down as directed by the candidate and continued asking a question about immigration that was hostile to the campaign’s agenda.
Bet you don’t remember how Trump actually answered the query once Ramos was permitted back inside.
Fear not, First Amendment fans.
It isn’t as if Trump really hates all news media in principle because he built his fame with its help. The story came up again recently about how he used assumed names on the phone such as John Miller and John Barron so gossip writers would quote him as an associate of himself.
These days, Trump seems to find gratification and favor in at least some of the coverage. For instance, the New York Observer, owned by his son-in-law, and Breitbart News both defer to Trump’s ambitions.
And the morning of the critical Indiana primary, Trump cited a far-fetched piece in the imaginative National Enquirer to throw a special stink bomb at rival Republican Ted Cruz.
The publication published a grainy 1963 photo of somebody handing out leaflets with Lee Harvey Oswald and identified him as Cruz’s father.
“[Cruz’s] father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald being, you know, shot. I mean the whole thing is ridiculous. What is this, right, prior to his being shot? And nobody even brings it up,” Trump said on “Fox and Friends.” “What was he doing — what was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death? Before the shooting? It’s horrible.”
The nonpartisan PolitiFact investigated and gave the surreal encounter a “Pants on Fire” rating.
The important thing to Trump is that he found the story useful, at least for a day.
And he defended the publication.
“The National Enquirer gave you John Edwards,” he said on ABC News. “It gave you O.J. Simpson. It gave you many, many things. I mean, you can’t knock the National Enquirer.
“It’s brought many things to light.”
Maybe, if and when the time comes, the Enquirer will get the first question at each of Trump’s White House news conferences.
Unless, of course, the paper’s stories turn negative and the petulant president throws it off the premises.