A reporter who has been critical of the Hillary Clinton campaign’s lack of transparency and access was prohibited from serving as the designated press pool reporter for an event held in New Hampshire on Monday.
Clinton’s handlers gave several different reasons for barring David Martosko, the U.S. political editor for the U.K.-based Daily Mail, from attending the event, which was held at the Puritan Backroom in Manchester.
Martosko and the Daily Mail had been designated by other outlets in the press pool to attend Clinton’s speech, which is one of three that she will give on Monday.
According to Martosko’s pool report, when he arrived at the early-morning event he was greeted by Hillary for New Hampshire staffer Meredith Thatcher and told that he was not approved to work the pool.
Clinton campaign bars designated print pooler, Daily Mail's David Martosko, from pooling events in NH today. No print pooler as of now.
— Peter Nicholas (@PeterNicholas3) June 15, 2015
Martosko, a former editor at The Daily Caller, spoke to Thatcher’s boss and then to Clinton campaign spokesman Nick Merrill.
“We’ve been getting a lot of blowback from foreign outlets that want to be part of the pool and we need to rethink it all, maybe for a day, and just cool things off until we can have a discussion,” Merrill told Martosko, according to his pool report.
Clinton campaign tells @dmartosko he was denied print pool access because 'We’ve been getting a lot of blowback from foreign outlets."
— Anita Kumar (@anitakumar01) June 15, 2015
But after Martosko told Merrill that other foreign outlets like U.K-based Guardian are part of the pool, the aide claimed that the Daily Mail was being blocked because it is not part of the White House’s regular presidential press pool rotation.
“We’re just trying to follow the same process and system the White House has,” Merrill said, according to The Daily Mail.
Today's print Pooler for @HillaryClinton told he was denied access because his paper is foreign and is not part of WH pool rotation
— Anita Kumar (@anitakumar01) June 15, 2015
Martosko told Merrill that the Daily Mail does have a reporter who has been vetted by the White House and has a hard pass to attend press briefings. Byron Tau, a reporter who covers the White House beat for the Wall Street Journal, noted that the Daily Mail’s White House reporter is part of the supplemental pool rotation.
Daily Mail has a reporter with a White House hard pass and is part of the supplemental pool rotation. https://t.co/a7Cwx4ZkjT
— Byron Tau (@ByronTau) June 15, 2015
Merrill reiterated that the decision to ban Martosko from the event had “nothing to do” with the Daily Mail’s foreign status and that “we don’t consider you foreign press.”
“This isn’t about you. It’s about a larger…,” Merrill said before trailing off, according to Martosko, who recorded his conversation with the spokesman.
“It’s my understanding that the pool wasn’t sending a reporter today,” Merrill added. Martosko replied, “the pool sent me and I’m here.”
Keeping Martosko from the event highlights a major complaint voiced by reporters covering Clinton’s campaign. Many have said that the campaign prohibits access to the Democrat and that she rarely takes questions from reporters.
Martosko has been one of the more vocal pool members speaking out about the campaign’s tight grip on the press. On Saturday, after Clinton re-launched her campaign during a speech in New York, Martosko posted a tweet criticizing how other reporters have covered the event.
It's truly astonishing how many journalists at the @Hillaryclinton speech today reported exactly, and only, what the campaign wanted them to
— David Martosko (@dmartosko) June 14, 2015
In a statement released after Martosko was denied access, the New Hampshire GOP weighed in, citing Clinton’s lack of transparency.
“Hillary Clinton continues to run a secretive campaign that limits access to the press and to the public because she doesn’t want to answer questions about her failed record. This is a troubling trend that raises serious questions about Secretary Clinton’s honesty and trustworthiness,” said New Hampshire GOP chairman Jennifer Horn.
“Hillary Clinton’s secretive campaign is based on a clear sense of entitlement and arrogance, and it undermines New Hampshire’s tradition of open and accessible campaigning.”
The Daily Mail also released a statement confirming the incident and stating that it is seeking an explanation from the Clinton campaign.
“We can confirm that David Martosko, U.S. Political Editor, DailyMail.com was today denied access to Hillary Clinton’s campaign event and was prohibited from boarding a van that the Clinton campaign is using to transport pool reporters around New Hampshire,” said a Daily Mail spokesman.
“We are seeking an explanation from the Clinton campaign as to why this occurred as Mr. Martosko was scheduled to be the designated print pool reporter in New Hampshire this morning.”
Merrill offered a statement as well but gave no explanation for why Martosko was blocked.
“We want a happy press corps as much as the press corps does. And we work very hard to achieve that in tandem with them. It’s a long campaign, and we are going to do our best to find equilibrium and best accommodate interest from as many news outlets as possible, given the space limitations of our events.”