Trump club members get access, while reporters stew

WASHINGTON — Regardless of who occupies the White House, the press corps is always battling for more access.

Yet, some are noticing members of President Donald Trump’s private Mar-a-Lago club seemed to have better access to the president during a weekend visit by the Japanese prime minister than reporters assigned to cover the president.

“While the president and Prime Minister Abe were golfing, the press corps was actually put into a basement, with windows that had black plastic over them — they looked like garbage bags,” said Alex Howard, deputy director of the Sunlight Foundation, which says it wants to create a more open, transparent government.

Trump has had a contentious relationship with the media, but reporters complained the blacked-out windows left them in the dark.

“It’s literally censoring the press access to simply see the president golfing,” Howard said.

To make matters worse, members of Mar-a-Lago have shared photos on social media of Trump and Abe.


“It is a private club full of people who have full access to moving around the links, the ballroom and people pay quite a bit of money there,” Howard said.

Several reporters said Trump and Abe were photographed in the ballroom, talking and apparently viewing documents, shortly after hearing news that North Korea had fired a ballistic missile.

Howard said presidents and foreign leaders have typically met in a SCIF, or sensitive compartmented information facility, while discussing important matters or viewing documents.

Howard said the Trump administration is clearly trying to control its message in limiting access to the president.

“They can create their own shaped reality of what is happening,” said Howard. “They can create their own pictures, literally, of what’s going on.”

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