Reporters from previously blacklisted news organizations will regain full press access to Donald Trump's campaign events, the Republican presidential nominee said Wednesday.
"They can't treat me any worse!" Mr. Trump said in a statement to CNN.
But the move may also be part of a larger effort on the part of the presidential candidate to win over on-the-fence voters in the months before the general election, as some unidentified journalists reportedly told The Washington Post that Trump began to reconsider the ban after some voters deemed it "draconian and authoritarian."
The campaign's controversial decision to revoke the press credentials of about a dozen media outlets, including The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, and Buzzfeed, didn't appear to significantly hurt Mr. Trump's campaign; indeed, experts say, at a time when polls reveal Americans' trust in the media to be at a historical low, the unprecedented move to ban major news organizations may have even helped.
"Many Americans," and Trump supporters especially, "are fed up with what they see as a press that talks about free speech, but does not responsibly use that right," Jim Kuypers, author of "Partisan Journalism: A History of Media Bias in the United States," told the Monitor in June, when Trump banned the Washington Post. "To the degree that is there, Trump has tapped into that."
But the decision was also criticized by some press freedom advocates. Washington Post editor Martin Baron, in a statement in June, called the move "nothing less than a repudiation of the role of a free and independent press."
Others worried about the precedent the ban might set for a Trump presidency. As The Christian Science Monitor's Nicole Orttung reported in June:
Trump has said that if he were to become president, news organizations that have criticized him "will have problems." He threatened to sue the Washington Post in January over an article about the bankruptcy of his Atlantic City casino. This would be a very difficult suit to win, thanks to the First Amendment's historically strong protection of journalists, but Trump has said as president he hopes to weaken the libel law that protects journalists covering public figures.
The decision to return the news organizations' press credentials follows running mate Gov. Mike Pence's announcement in July that he was conducting internal conversations within the campaign in an attempt to lift the ban.
And, as The Washington Post's Callum Borchers points out, the decision also comes as Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton "appears to be making an effort to engage reporters more often," after criticism of her own campaign's limited access for journalists, such as not holding a press conference for over 270 days. Mrs. Clinton will now allow journalists to travel aboard her campaign plane, and took questions from the press corps both Monday and Tuesday, the Post reports.