NEW YORK ― Donald Trump headed to the second presidential debate without notifying his traveling press corps, leaving reporters to learn from a tweet that the Republican nominee had left for St. Louis.
Presidential nominees have traditionally allowed for a “protective pool,” a rotating group of reporters who follow the candidate’s movements each day and file regular dispatches for the larger press corps. It’s similar to the White House Correspondents Association’s pool system for following the president each day and relies on the campaign providing reporters with information.
Trump doesn’t allow pool reporters to fly with him, which is the arrangement under a protective pool. However, Trump’s traveling press corps, including daily pool reporters, expect to be informed when he’s heading to events so as to follow in a second plane.
But reporters stationed in New York ― where Trump spent most of the past couple days, sequestered in Trump Tower and dealing with the lewd tape scandal ― only learned the candidate had left when campaign manager Kellyanne Conway tweeted a photo.
The Trump campaign’s behavior Sunday follows a pattern of disrespecting the press’ role throughout the election cycle.
The campaign blacklisted nearly a dozen outlets throughout most of the election season and, at times, significantly limited the movements of those reporters given press credentials. Staffers working for Trump and vice presidential candidate Mike Pence have removed reporters from public rallies, incidents that are especially troubling against the backdrop of a Republican nominee whose actions have drawn comparisons to anti-press autocrats.
News organizations pay a lot to follow the candidate, only to miss out on actually covering him. Last month, Trump refused to wait for his traveling press corps to arrive at a New Hampshire rally and mocked their absence to the cheers of supporters. On Friday, a Pence staffer removed the candidate’s press pool from a Toledo, Ohio, restaurant, just as an 11-year-old recording of Trump making vulgar and demeaning comments about women was surfacing.
Trump pool reporters were kept in the dark Friday night as Trump went ahead with a video statement released just after midnight.
On Sunday, the only explanation reporters got for Trump’s abrupt departure that morning was that “the schedule changed” and they “were not able to scramble a flight crew and change the flight plan,” according to a pool report.
A Trump spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Later on Sunday, the traveling press boarded a plane from LaGuardia Airport to St. Louis.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.