Trump Campaign Refuses to Credential Bloomberg News Reporters

It's a tricky situation.

I’m Scott Nover. Welcome back to Pressing, a newsletter about press freedom. If you haven’t yet subscribed, you can do so here and receive this letter in your inbox every Tuesday morning as well as special features for paid subscribers.

This is the 23rd issue of Pressing and it’s great to have you with me. Please send me feedback, thoughts, suggestions, and tips at sgnover@gmail.com.


Trump Campaign Refuses to Credential Bloomberg News Reporters

Last week, Bloomberg News released a convoluted coverage plan that said they would cover all Democratic candidates including their owner, Michael Bloomberg, but would not investigate him or any of his Democratic opponents. Bloomberg News said it would continue to cover and investigate the Trump campaign, however, unless Michael Bloomberg becomes the Democratic nominee. At that point they’d reevaluate.

Well, the Trump campaign — unsurprisingly — used that as ammo. Now, the Trump campaign is refusing to credential Bloomberg News reporters at any official campaign events while this policy persists.

I’m not defending Bloomberg’s coverage plan — I think they should assert their editorial independence by covering their owner, a presidential candidate, ruthlessly and investigating him and his rivals. Instead, I think they’ve committed to doing shallow journalism that doesn’t help anyone learn more than which horse is further along in the race.

However, the Trump campaign’s policy is inexcusable and threatens the free flow of information. Campaigns routinely credential established media companies — even ideological or partisan ones (which Bloomberg is decidedly not, despite the Trump campaign’s claims).

Trump is in the wrong, but Bloomberg’s tepidness gave the ammo to a trigger-happy candidate.


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Singapore Pushes Facebook around over ‘Fake News’ Claims

After the “fringe news site” States Times Review (STR) posted on Facebook about the arrest of an alleged whistleblower and allegations of election rigging, the Singaporean government took action to try and correct what they claim are false accusations. Under their controversial “fake news” law, officials contacted Facebook to coerce the social media giant into publishing a rebuttal — or “correction” — from the government. Facebook, in a first-time decision, slapped an annotation on the post, writing they’re “legally required to tell you that the Singapore government says this post has false information.” It’s the first time that Facebook has complied with Singapore’s fake news law, which went into effect in October. Critics and press freedom advocates called the law “chilling.” 100 academics also decried the law in April, saying its passage threatened academic freedom.


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Maltese Prime Minister Resigns over Journalist’s 2017 Murder

In October 2017, journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered by a car bomb as she was investigating corruption among business and political leaders in Malta.

For more than two years, pressure has mounted on the small European country’s prime minister Joseph Muscat over his handling of the investigation into Galizia’s death.

Recently, the powerful businessman Yorgen Fenech — Malta’s richest man — was charged with “complicity in the murder” after he was discovered as the owner of the Dubai-based company 17 Black, which was named in the 2016 Panama Papers leak. Fenech is suspected of bribing multiple Maltese officials, and is connected with a taxi driver that was supposedly the “middle man” implicated in Galizia’s murder.

Keith Schembri, Muscat’s chief of staff, resigned and was subsequently arrested last week. Fenech’s company was set to make payments to Schembri and the country’s tourism minister.

In totality, the proximity of these men to Malta’s leader proved too much for him to remain in office. Protests mounted in the country’s capital of Valletta in recent weeks, with citizens dissatisfied with Muscat’s handling of the probe into the journalist’s death.

Muscat will step down from his leadership of the Labour party on January 12 and as prime minister in the days after, the BBC reported.

Pompeo Speaks on Egypt

After police raided the Mada Masr newsroom last week — the last real independent news outlet in the country — and detained multiple journalists, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke out urging the Egyptian government to respect the free press.

“As part of our long-standing strategic partnership with Egypt, we continue to raise the fundamental importance of respect for human rights, universal freedoms, and the need for a robust civil society,” Pompeo said at a news conference.

The call is important, but shallow: the U.S. government under Donald Trump derides journalists, limits access, and has systematically failed to hold Saudi Arabia responsible for the assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, an American resident.

I wrote about the scandal in Egypt last Tuesday.


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