I have pointed out in the past how Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have very similar views on restricting civil liberties. In a recent op-ed Carol Lee, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, argued that both Trump and Clinton are a threat to press freedom:
The White House Correspondents’ Association is alarmed by the treatment of the press in the 2016 presidential campaign.
There is no debate that a free press with broad access to our elected officials, as guaranteed by the First Amendment, is a cornerstone of our democracy. It is through the work of a free press that Americans learn how their elected officials conduct the public’s business and are able to hold those officials accountable.
As the highest-ranking public official in the country, the president sets the tone. How he or she, or anyone seeking the White House, approaches the media will be observed by officials in federal, state and local offices across the country.
That is why the White House Correspondents’ Association is alarmed by the treatment of the press in the 2016 presidential campaign.
The public’s right to know is infringed if certain reporters are banned from a candidate’s events because the candidate doesn’t like a story they have written or broadcast, as Donald Trump has done.
Similarly, refusing to regularly answer questions from reporters in a press conference, as Hillary Clinton has, deprives the American people of hearing from their potential commander-in-chief in a format that is critical to ensuring he or she is accountable for policy positions and official acts.
We believe that whenever media access is restricted, the public’s right to know is restricted. Transparency is the key to a well-informed electorate, and without a well-informed electorate, our democracy is put in jeopardy.
With that goal in mind, we advocate day-in and day-out at the White House for greater access to the president. We will continue to advocate for more access during this presidential campaign.
The American people expect that anyone who seeks the highest office in the United States should be put under intense scrutiny. If he or she has an issue with that, Americans should take note.
The United States will not have a free press if its president gets to choose which journalists and which media organizations are allowed access to the executive branch. We will not have a truly free press and an informed electorate if the president doesn’t believe he or she should be held accountable to inquiries from the media.
It is a reporter’s job to cut through the rhetoric from candidates, scrutinize whether their policy proposals would benefit Americans in the way they claim and question the viability of their promises. If we cannot do our job, then the American people cannot do theirs.
That’s why we are concerned both with the rhetoric directed at the media in this campaign and the level of press access to the candidates. Both Clinton and Trump can do better.
Clinton’s avoidance of the press should also concern Democrats. We have already seen her tumble in the polls after the FBI statement which demonstrated that Clinton has been lying about the email scandal for the past year. If she has lied every time she spoke to the press in the past year, what will happen when she finally faces the press after the FBI and State Department Inspector General reports?