- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 7, 2019

President Trump on Saturday suggested barring two reporters for The Washington Post from the White House over their critical coverage of his administration.

Mr. Trump took to Twitter to target Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists Phillip Rucker and Ashley Parker, the co-authors of a recent Post report that has provoked pushback from the White House this week.

Calling them “two nasty lightweight reporters,” the president said that Mr. Rucker and Ms. Parker “shouldn’t even be allowed on the grounds of the White House because their reporting is so DISGUSTING & FAKE.”

Martin Baron, the newspaper’s executive editor, issued a statement later Saturday morning defending the reporters as “superb journalists” who have “consistently demonstrated their integrity in covering the White House.”

“We stand fully behind them and their important work,” said Mr. Baron.

“The president’s statement fits into a pattern of seeking to denigrate and intimidate the press,” Mr. Baron added. “It’s unwarranted and dangerous, and it represents a threat to a free press in this country.”

Reporting for the Post last Sunday, Ms. Rucker and Ms. Parker wrote that many of the president’s advisers aides consider the last few months of his administration to be rife with “missed opportunity and self-sabotage.”

Titled “Trump’s lost summer: Aides claim victory, but others see incompetence and intolerance,” the article resulted in White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham and White House principal deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley co-writing a response published Friday, “The Washington Post’s lost summer,” criticizing the newspaper’s recent reporting.

Mr. Rucker and Ms. Parker are among the Post reporters who contributed to the outlet’s coverage of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, for which they received Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 2018.

Several fellow reporters subsequently offered their support in response to the journalists being targeted personally by the president Saturday.

“Just a Saturday morning note that @AshleyRParker and @PhilipRucker are some of the hardest working, excellent reporters — and are incredibly nice and considerate on top of all that,” tweeted CNN reporter Hadas Gold.

“They are two of the most well-sourced, honest and straight-forward reporters in the business. And they happen to be fantastic people, too,” New York Times correspondent Michael D. Shear said in a tweet directed toward Mr. Trump. “Your personal attacks on them (and other reporters) are completely misplaced, beneath your office and simply wrong.”

The White House has publicly feuded with reporters throughout Mr. Trump’s presidency, including suspending the press credentials last month of Playboy correspondent Brian Karem. More recently, a federal court judge subsequently issued a decision on Tuesday this week effectively requiring the White House to reinstate Mr. Karem’s press pass.

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