Major TV networks banded together to erase video of Donald Trump conducting a tour of his new Washington, D.C. hotel after they say the Republican nominee’s campaign broke with rules determining press pool coverage of his events and physically restrained an ABC News producer.
Trump on Friday invited only photographers and video cameras to accompany him on a tour of his newly-opened Trump International Hotel, after delivering a speech that had been billed as a “major statement” on his birtherism but only touched on the topic for 33 seconds. As Politico reported, pool rules require that a pool producer accompany any campaign event that will be documented visually.
Yet ABC producer Candace Smith wrote on Twitter that she was “physically restrained” from joining the tour. Once the other networks caught wind that any editorial presence had been barred from the tour, their Washington bureau chiefs decided in an emergency conference call to pull the camera accompanying Trump and erase all footage of the tour, according to Politico.
This remarkable move followed a remarkable display of political showmanship from the Trump campaign. After telling reporters that he would clarify his thoughts on President Barack Obama’s birthplace, which he for years has suggested was not within the United States, Trump instead used his speech as an opportunity to promote his hotel and publicize endorsements from military generals. He briefly mentioned birtherism at the end of the address, falsely claiming that Hillary Clinton started the conspiracy theory before admitting that Obama was in fact born in the U.S.
Although his campaign billed the event as a press conference, he did not take any questions after acknowledging the President’s birthplace. Associated Press photographs show journalists standing on chairs and shouting after him as he left the room. His staff then said that no reporters or editors would be allowed to join a tour of the hotel, circumventing another opportunity to ask questions.