Inside Donald Trump's Fraught Relationship With the Press

Trump has attacked the media on Twitter.

Trump has also shown an apparent disregard for press protocol. He sneaked out of Trump Tower for a steak dinner last night without alerting the reporters covering the president-elect.

That was the second time since Nov. 9 that the press was unaware of the president-elect's location. The move elicited a letter from 15 different press freedom groups calling on Trump to "commit to a protective press pool from now until the final day of your presidency."

Here's what to know about Trump's complicated relationship with the press and why it matters when he officially becomes the nation's 45th president.

If History Tells Us Anything

Throughout his campaign, Trump hardly went a day without railing against what he described as the "dishonest" and "disgusting" media following his team across the country.

He would target specific reporters in attendance at his rallies, and whip up anger among the crowd by claiming that the media never reported the high levels of attendance at his events, although the media often did. He often repeated this claim without mentioning that his aides had prohibited a "cuts" camera that outlets request from campaigns in order to show crowds.

This past winter, Trump openly threatened to "open up our libel laws" as president so it would become easier to sue news organizations that published or broadcast stories he believed were false.

In June, the relationship between Trump and the press had become so toxic that he had banned The Washington Post and nearly 12 other news organizations from having access to his rallies. That ban wasn't lifted until early September, reportedly at the urging of his running mate Mike Pence.

But the media also didn't escape scorn from Trump's primary opponents. His outsider status and controversial remarks and actions often received the brunt of attention across cable networks, leading to allegations of "free advertising" from his GOP opponents who claimed this legitimized Trump's candidacy.

Why Reporting a Steak Dinner Matters

Twice in the past week the American people were in the dark about the whereabouts of the next president of the United States.

Once reporters yesterday observed a large motorcade departing Trump Tower -- the first movement by Trump from his New York City skyscraper since last Thursday -- the media began speculating whether Trump was going out to dinner, seeing a Broadway show, or potentially experiencing a medical episode.

Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks had originally told members of the press that Trump had no plans of leaving his compound that evening. She assured reporters following the incident that they would be given proper access once a president-elect pool had been officially organized.

The White House Correspondents' Association released a statement Wednesday calling it "unacceptable" for Trump's team to not include the press pool in his traveling motorcade. In the letter from press freedom groups, the leaders noted that "the idea of a press pool that covers all of the president's movements is one that dates back to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt administration."

President Obama received similar criticism in April 2010 after breaking protocol by leaving the press pool at the White House as he went to attend one of his daughter's soccer games.

What the White House Press Corps Can Expect

With any transition to a new administration, there is always a period of adjustment for both the new White House press office and reporters demanding as much access as possible to cover the incoming president. But there's a general anxiety among many reporters that access to Trump may be restricted.

"A protective press pool is a norm, not a legal obligation, so the Trump administration is not required to abide by it," Uberti said. "The best way for journalists to put pressure on him in this regard is to actively explain why this tradition is important for their audience — that is, the public — in the hope that they also push back."

That anxiety will likely not be eased based on the past behavior of Trump and the team of surrogates he has surrounded himself with, nearly all of whom have portrayed themselves as victims of a dishonest mainstream media.

The most recent example is Trump's recent appointment of Stephen Bannon as his senior counselor and his previous role as executive chairman of the far-right website Breitbart, which distinguished itself throughout the campaign with favorable reporting toward Trump and what some criticized as misleading or wrong articles about his Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton.

Whether Trump and his family will accept the probing nature of the White House press corps once they take up residence remains to be seen.

Trump told CNN in June that while he would not revoke credentials from reporters as president, he would also not be shy in pointing out errors where he saw them.

If his recent Twitter feed is any indication, the president-elect is sticking to his word about responding to the media.