- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 14, 2016

A group representing White House journalists said Thursday that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are threatening freedom of the press with their behavior in the presidential campaign.

Saying that the president “sets the tone” for relations with the media across all levels of government, White House Correspondents’ Association President Carol Lee and incoming President Jeff Mason said they are “alarmed” by the candidates’ treatment of the press.

“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,” they wrote in USA Today. “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.”

Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, has barred the Washington Post from covering his campaign events, claiming unfair treatment. Mrs. Clinton has been criticized for going months without taking questions from reporters traveling with her campaign.

Ms. Lee, a reporter with the Wall Street Journal, and Mr. Mason, who covers the White House for Reuters, said transparency is the key to a well-informed electorate.

“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,” they said. “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.”

They said of the candidates, “Both Clinton and Trump can do better.”

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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