NBC reporter reportedly ‘cut off’ from Trump press pool after viral Stefanik exchange

The Trump campaign has been accused of seeking “retribution” against an NBC News correspondent who asked Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) on Friday to “comment on E. Jean Carroll accusations” against the former president.

In New Hampshire on Friday, surrounded by a crowd of press, reporter Vaughn Hillyard shoved a mic in the outspoken Trump supporter’s face and asked, “How do you grapple with standing by his side while a jury is debating how much to award E. Jean Carroll for being sexually abused by Donald Trump?”

Stefanik pointed to the “biased” media.

“These are witchhunts against President Trump!” Stefanik stated. “The media is so biased. This is just another example of the media being —”

Hillyard pressed for his “gotcha” moment.

“Why not believe E. Jean Carroll?” he demanded to know. “It’s not me! It’s not the media! It’s a jury that found that he sexually abused —”

“The media is so out of touch with the American people,” Stefanik said. “Like in 2016, you are going to see the American people speak out loudly and clearly with their vote.”

Not surprisingly, MSNBC attempted to spin the exchange into a “viral” moment.

(Video: YouTube)

On Sunday, Puck News founder and senior correspondent Dylan Byers announced on X that the Trump campaign responded to Hillyard’s bravado by kicking him out of the press pool.

“I’m told the Trump campaign barred today’s press pooler, NBC’s @VaughnHillyard, from traveling with the former president today in retribution for a recent interview in which Hillyard had pressed Rep. Stefanik to comment on E. Jean Carroll’s accusations against Trump,” Byers reported on X.

“Your NBC News pooler has been informed that the pool will no longer travel with and take part in the former president’s OTR stops today before his Rochester rally,” Byers quoted Hillyard’s pool report as saying. “Your pooler was told that if he was the designated pooler by NBC News that the pool would be cut off for the day. After affirming to the campaign that your pooler would attend the events, NBC News was informed at about 2:20pmET that the pool would not be allowed to travel with Trump today.”

In a statement to Mediaite, the Trump campaign denied targeting Hillyard.

“We don’t ban or bar reporters based on their reporting,” the campaign said, but not before the classic “wrap-up smear” was in full swing.

In case you need a reminder, here is a years-old clip of Nancy Pelosi describing the much-used tactic:

Trump’s detractors seized on Byers’ allegation as proof of Trump’s “dictator” tendencies.

“This is a small taste of what a Trump dictatorship will be like,” one user on X warned. “Will the press’s fear of no access and horse race journalism be worth the future state run media that will occur if Trump is reelected? May we never find out.”

“Has the rest of the pool refused to travel with them in solidarity or did they all just capitulate?” another asked.

“The entire press corps has to stand up to him,” stated a third. “He cannot be allowed to command the coverage he wants by threat and intimidation.”

“Wear this as a badge of honor,” one blatantly biased user told Hillyard. “It signifies that you’re both doing your job and you’re doing your job well! #Respect”

 

Melissa Fine

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