The PJ Tatler

Wendy Davis' Campaign Just Started a War with the Texas Political Press Corps (Update: Texas Media Explode in Rage)

Before I get to the tweets that serve as a timeline, we need to set the stage. David Rauf is the Austin bureau reporter for the San Antonio Express-News and the Houston Chronicle. Those newspapers serve Texas’ largest and second-largest cities. They are big dogs among the Texas press. Jan Soifer is the chair of the Travis County Democratic Party.

The Travis County Democratic Party held a fundraiser with Wendy Davis on Tuesday, and Davis delivered her stump speech. That’s normal stuff. But in a highly unusual move, the TCDP and the Davis campaign barred the event to all but one media outlet, the Texas Tribune, which livestreamed it. According to Rauf, not only did the Tribune get exclusive access, a Davis campaign press release told other media to stay away. They would not be welcome or admitted.

Rauf took to Twitter today trying to get some answers, because apparently the TCDP and the Davis campaign have circled their wagons.


Soifer’s initial reply to him was a non-answer.


Rauf noted that the TCDP and the Davis campaign limited access to just one outlet, keeping competitors from doing anything other than reporting on what they saw on the Tribune‘s livestream.


Rauf persisted.




Soifer answered.


That bit of cheerleading didn’t go over very well.




Soifer stopped responding. Tellingly, Democrat activist Phillip Martin chimed in to defend the TCDP, the Davis campaign and the Tribune, with a bit of juvenile snark.


Rauf wasn’t amused.


Rauf also questioned the Democratic Party’s actions. Bo Delp and Rebecca Acuna work for the Davis campaign and the Texas Democratic Party, respectively.


Martin, the juicebox activist, tried again.


Rauf, recipient of the Monday “stay away” press release, countered.


The episode leaves a strong impression that the Texas Tribune, the Davis campaign and the Democratic Party operations colluded to keep the rest of Texas’ political press away from Wendy Davis as she continues to struggle with the fallout from revelations about her origins story. Rauf insinuates that. The TCDP’s behavior is bizarre, first telling media to stay away, then breezily defending its decision in an obvious lie that was sure to be called out in public. Martin’s interventions proved counterproductive. He needlessly antagonized a reporter who was doing his job.

Davis’ credibility is already suffering heavy blows from her policy flubs and her shading of the facts about herself. Sparking a war against the majority of the political press in the state is so unwise that it verges on lunacy.

Update: Coup de grace.


Update: A comment from a television news director in Texas: “Who the f*ck is the Texas Tribune other than a news organization that violates every ethical standard possible – begging for money in the course of their reporting?”

The Tribune is a tax-exempt non-profit, and as such is not supposed to be in competition with any other media.

Update: Another journalist said today: “What kind of planning was it to have Davis give the best speech of her life on the same night as the State of the Union?”

Good question.