Score another one for press freedom: New York Times reporter Kathy Gray was tracked down and kicked out of a packed Trump rally in Michigan on Thursday night, after she posted pictures from the rally on Twitter.
During a nearly 90-minute speech, President Trump took credit for “bringing you a lot of car plants” (though the state has gained only one new facility during his presidency), pushed for college football players and college students to return to campus, and tried to gin up fear about the destruction of suburbs by antifa and poor people.
Gray began tweeting shortly before 7 p.m. local time, noting that only a small percentage of the thousands crowding the aircraft hangar in Freeland were wearing masks.
21 minutes later, however, she tweeted that she’d been tracked down and kicked out, after posting photos of the rally including a crowd shot and a picture of Michigan Senate candidate John James, who’d warmed up the crowd for the president.
The Trump campaign’s story is that Gray hadn’t applied for credentials and was violating a rule at Trump events that reporters can’t be in the audience, and that given an option to either stop doing her job or leave, Gray left.
A source at the New York Times told VICE News that Gray had attempted to reach out to the campaign to get press credentials after the deadline had passed, but the campaign didn't respond.
"We're disappointed that the Trump campaign refused to credential our freelancer and then, when she registered and attended as a member of the public, they ejected her from the event," the New York Times said in a statement provided to VICE News.
"Our goal is to cover these campaign events and talk to voters about the candidates, and that's what Kathy was trying to do."
Trump made his case for re-election in a state that was crucial to his 2016 win but where he’s been trailing former Vice President Joe Biden in recent polls. Biden has an eight-point lead in Michigan and leads in five other swing states, a CNBC and Change Research poll released earlier this week found.
During the rally, Trump claimed credit for an auto-industry renewal that has not in fact occurred under his presidency.
“We brought you a lot of car plants, Michigan. We brought you a lot of car plants. You know that, right?” he told the crowd. “It’s been a long time since you had all these plants being built, but we brought you a lot over the last three and a half years, and we're going to bring you a lot more.”
Michigan has had exactly one new major assembly facility built during Trump’s presidency, the Detroit Free Press noted.
Trump also pushed for universities and University of Michigan football to return, even after other large public universities, such as the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, have seen disastrous reopenings and an explosion of outbreaks.
“You have to have a governor because right now Michigan's lagging. Great football, great coach, great team,” Trump said. “We want a governor, John James, that's going to let Michigan play Big Ten football this year. You've been seeing a lot of the other schools want to open Big Ten at my suggestion.” (James is running for Senate, not governor. Trump later referred to James’ run for Senate.)
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat who’s been frequently criticized by Trump, has no control over whether the University of Michigan plays football. The Big Ten conference’s 14 university presidents and chancellors voted to postpone the start of the season on August 11 and haven’t taken any further steps since.
Finally, Trump continued to try to stoke fear among suburbanites, particularly around affordable housing and, weirdly, antifa.
“Does anybody want to have somebody from antifa as a member and as a resident of your suburb? I don't think so too much,” Trump said, mimicking a conversation between an imaginary suburban couple.
“Say, darling, who moved in next door?’ ‘Oh, it's a resident of antifa.’ ‘No, thank you. Let's get out of here. Let's get the hell out of here, darling. Let's leave our suburbs. I wish Trump were president. He wouldn't have allowed that to happen.’”
In July, the Trump administration ended an Obama-era fair housing regulation that required cities to make plans to tackle discriminatory housing policies, a move that the Alliance for Housing Justice called “a breathtaking betrayal of their responsibility under the Fair Housing Act, and a dictatorial subversion of the process.” On Thursday, he once again bragged about doing that.
“I got rid of a regulation that played with your zoning and played with other things, where they force projects into the suburbs of our great country,” Trump said.
“They want to erase your borders and indoctrinate your children with poisonous anti-American lies in our schools. Not going to happen. Not going to happen. For the last four years, they've tried everything to stop us, and they are only getting more desperate by the day.”
Cover: President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at MBS International Airport, Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020, in Freeland, Mich. (AP Photo/Jose Juarez)