FLASHBACK: Obama Booted Reporters From Conservative Papers Off His Plane In ‘08

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Michael Bastasch Contributor
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President-elect Donald Trump’s team has taken a lot of heat for threatening to kick a CNN reporter out of Trump Tower for being “rude” during a Wednesday press conference.

The media heaped on Trump for his treatment of CNN, forcing incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer to say he would “absolutely not” kick out news groups for critical coverage.

But the media is forgetting that then-Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign kicked off three reporters from his plane who worked for papers that endorsed Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain in the 2008 presidential race.

The Obama campaign did so in the final four days of the race, ABC News reported in 2008, claiming “a limited number of seats forced it to make the tough decision of which journalists would be permitted to follow” Obama on the campaign trail.

“Unfortunately, demand for seats on the plane during this final weekend has far exceeded supply, and because of logistical issues we made the decision not to add a second plane,” former Obama campaign adviser Anita Dunn told ABC.

But the conservative-leaning newspapers said they were targeted for endorsing Obama’s opponent, McCain. Obama even allowed nonpolitical writers with Glamour, Jet and Ebony magazines to remain on his plane. Meanwhile, reporters with The Dallas Morning News, Washington Times and The New York Post lost their seats.

“It feels like the journalistic equivalent of redistributing the wealth,” John Solomon, executive editor of the Washington Times, told ABC in 2008.

“We’ve covered him since 2007 and paid our dues,” he said. “By the numbers we’ve covered Obama longer and given more coverage to him than many of the other people who were given seats.”

The Obama campaign said they needed to make room for the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times, noting that The Wall Street Journal and Fox News, which lean right, got to keep their seats.

ABC News at the time noted this wasn’t the first time the press were kicked off presidential campaign flights.

“In 2004, The New York Times said it was not given a seat on Air Force 2 when Vice President Dick Cheney was stumping with President Bush, because the vice president was displeased with the paper’s coverage of him,” ABC News reported.

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