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By Ginger Gibson and Emily Flitter

U.S. Republican Donald Trump said on Monday he will no longer issue press credentials to the Washington Post, stopping the publication from gaining access to press areas at his presidential campaign events.

The Washington Post, based in the U.S. capital, is one the country’s the most influential newspapers and has one of the largest circulations.

“They have no journalistic integrity and write falsely about Mr. Trump,” his campaign said in a statement explaining the decision. “Mr. Trump does not mind a bad story, but it has to be honest.”

Trump’s campaign repeated criticism the candidate has made of Post owner Jeff Bezos, who also owns online retailer Amazon.com.

It is unusual for a presidential campaign to refuse to issue credentials to news organizations. Credentials are needed for reporters, photographers and other staff to gain access to press seating, travel with the campaign and attend media-only events, like press conferences.

“Donald Trump’s decision to revoke The Washington Post’s press credentials is nothing less than a repudiation of the role of a free and independent press,” the newspaper’s editor, Marty Baron, said in a statement.

“When coverage doesn’t correspond to what the candidate wants it to be, then a news organization is banished. The Post will continue to cover Donald Trump as it has all along — honorably, honestly, accurately, energetically, and unflinchingly. We’re proud of our coverage, and we’re going to keep at it.”

A source close to the campaign said the ban could be temporary and pointed out that Trump has already barred other new organizations, including Politico, from obtaining press credentials and then reversed course.

Ben Smith, executive editor of Buzzfeed, responded that his news organization, which targets millennials, is also banned from covering official Trump events. The Huffington Post posted on Twitter that its reporters are also barred.

“A candidate for the highest elected office in the land doesn’t get to choose what goes in a newspaper,” said Committee to Protect Journalist Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney. “It provides a ready-made excuse for authoritarian leaders to crackdown further on independent journalists. We urge Donald Trump to reconsider and let the Washington Post do its job.”

Trump’s campaign took issue with an article that appeared on The Washington Post’s website earlier on Monday with the headline, “Donald Trump suggests President Obama was involved with Orlando shooting’ as their headline.” The headline was changed to “Donald Trump seems to connect President Obama to Orlando shooting” within an hour after it was published.

The Washington Post has assigned a team of reporters to produce a book about Trump that is scheduled to be released later this year.

 

(Reporting by Ginger Gibson and Emily Flitter; Editing by Tom Brown and Sandra Maler)

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump delivers a campaign speech about national security in Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S. June 13, 2016 in response to the mass shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder 

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