Increasingly, Republicans have decided that they no longer need, want, or will tolerate a free press, and getting rid of news networks, newspapers, magazines, news radio and cable news in favor of internet propaganda mills to reach the echo chamber faithful is all they will require, or will allow. The news outlets are discovering just how expendable they will be in a GOP fascist state, as NPR's Danielle Kurtzleben explains.
I went to Wisconsin in June to report on how abortion rights are affecting the Senate and governor primaries – the idea was to do one story on the Democrats and one on the Republicans.
Long story short: I heard back from the Democrats but not the Republicans. Phone calls, emails, Facebook messages – I didn't hear back from anyone. The top Republican governor candidates posted no events, though their social media showed they were out, talking to voters.
And so, when I happened to catch the top two GOP governor candidates walking in an Oconomowoc Fourth of July parade, I ran to the end of the route to catch them.
I found former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch greeting supporters. A staffer who then stepped between us told me they knew I had been reaching out and that I should contact a communications staffer, to whom I had already reached out. He would get back to me, she assured me.
He did not. And a day later, at a publicly-advertised meet-and-greet for governor candidate Kevin Nicholson, a staffer told me I wouldn't be allowed to even get tape of Nicholson greeting attendees.
As standalone anecdotes, these might not be a huge deal. However, they are also a part of a trend of Republican candidates ignoring or actively avoiding legacy media — particularly national outlets.
The phenomenon is impossible to quantify, but many Republican candidates are showing that they don't want – or need – to get their messages out via legacy media outlets. That can reduce the scrutiny they face while running for public office, hampering voters' ability to make informed choices.
A large group of reporters was kept out of a rally this spring for Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania. CBS's Robert Costa confronted a man who was blocking press from entry.
"If you're with the campaign, we can have a dialogue," Costa said.
"No dialogue," the man responded.
In addition, reporters have been frustrated by getting extremely limited access to other Republicans running for public office, like Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker, and Alaska congressional candidate Sarah Palin.
And the Republican National Committee voted unanimously this year to withdraw from the Commission on Presidential Debates ahead of 2024. Chair Ronna McDaniel said the party would find other platforms for debating.
Recently, the Florida GOP allowed conservative outlets into the party's Sunshine Summit, but barred many mainstream reporters, including Dave Weigel, author of the Washington Post's campaign newsletter, "The Trailer."
"You have one person from the campaign tweeting a photo from inside the room and talking about how great the view is that the journalists can't see," he said. "Spokespeople who are not answering my basic questions, like, 'Is there a recording of this event?' are taking the time to make fun of reporters for going there."
Indeed, Gov. Ron DeSantis' spokeswoman Christina Pushaw taunted reporters on Twitter afterward.
"It has come to my attention that some liberal media activists are mad because they aren't allowed into #SunshineSummit this weekend," she wrote. "My message to them is to try crying about it."
Dear political beat reporters: Republicans consider you an enemy that needs to be destroyed.
They want to put you in prison for "lying" about them, which consists of factually true things and verbatim words by said Republicans that they don't like to hear.
And if the GOP gets control in 2022 and 2024, you will be imprisoned, sued out of existence, and worse.
Folks in the Village better wake up. I know Upton Sinclair famously wrote that "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it", lord knows access journalism falls into this category, but if you guys don't start actually treating Republicans as enemies of democracy, you won't be a part of what comes after when they take over.
I guarantee you that Trump or DeSantis or even Pence won't give any of you the time of day, and the White House press room will look like CPAC for a reason.
You're not in the club, as George Carlin also famously said.