Trump’s Media Summit Was a ‘F−−−ing Firing Squad’
By Emily Smith and Daniel Halper
November 22, 2016 « Information Clearing House » – « NYPost » – A Donald Trump scolded media big shots during an off-the-record Trump Tower sitdown on Monday, sources told The Post.
“It was like a f−−−ing firing squad,” one source said of the encounter.
“Trump started with [CNN chief] Jeff Zucker and said, ‘I hate your network, everyone at CNN is a liar and you should be ashamed,’ ” the source said.
“The meeting was a total disaster. The TV execs and anchors went in there thinking they would be discussing the access they would get to the Trump administration, but instead they got a Trump-style dressing-down,” the source added.
A second source confirmed the fireworks.
“The meeting took place in a big boardroom and there were about 30 or 40 people, including the big news anchors from all the networks,” the other source said.
“Trump kept saying, ‘We’re in a room of liars, the deceitful, dishonest media who got it all wrong.’ He addressed everyone in the room, calling the media dishonest, deceitful liars. He called out Jeff Zucker by name and said everyone at CNN was a liar, and CNN was [a] network of liars,” the source said.
“Trump didn’t say [NBC reporter] Katy Tur by name, but talked about an NBC female correspondent who got it wrong, then he referred to a horrible network correspondent who cried when Hillary lost who hosted a debate — which was Martha Raddatz, who was also in the room.”
The stunned reporters tried to get a word in edgewise to discuss access to a Trump administration.
“[‘CBS Good Morning’ co-host Gayle] King did not stand up, but asked some question, ‘How do you propose we the media work with you?’ Chuck Todd asked some pretty pointed questions. David Muir asked, ‘How are you going to cope living in DC while your family is in NYC?’ It was a horrible meeting.”
Trump spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway told reporters the gathering went well.
“Excellent meetings with the top executives of the major networks,” she said during a gaggle in the lobby of Trump Tower. “Pretty unprecedented meeting we put together in two days.”
The meeting was off the record, meaning the participants agreed not to talk about the substance of the conversations.
The hour-long session included top execs from network and cable news channels. Among the attendees were NBC’s Deborah Turness, Lester Holt and Chuck Todd; ABC’s James Goldston, George Stephanopoulos, David Muir and Martha Raddatz; CBS’ Norah O’Donnell, John Dickerson, Charlie Rose, Christopher Isham and King; Fox News’ Bill Shine, Jack Abernethy, Jay Wallace and Suzanne Scott; MSNBC’s Phil Griffin, and CNN’s Jeff Zucker and Erin Burnett.
Arthur Sulzberger, publisher of the New York Times, plans to meet with Trump on Tuesday.
There was no immediate comment from the Trump Team.
Donald Trump Personally Blasts the Press
By David Remnick
November 22, 2016 « Information Clearing House » – « New Yorker » – The fantasy of the normalization of Donald Trump—the idea that a demagogic candidate would somehow be transformed into a statesman of poise and deliberation after his Election Day victory—should now be a distant memory, an illusion shattered.
First came the obsessive Twitter rants directed at “Hamilton” and “Saturday Night Live.” Then came Monday’s astonishing aria of invective and resentment aimed at the media, delivered in a conference room on the twenty-fifth floor of Trump Tower. In the presence of television executives and anchors, Trump whined about everything from NBC News reporter Katy Tur’s coverage of him to a photograph the news network has used that shows him with a double chin. Why didn’t they use “nicer” pictures?
For more than twenty minutes, Trump railed about “outrageous” and “dishonest” coverage. When he was asked about the sort of “fake news” that now clogs social media, Trump replied that it was the networks that were guilty of spreading fake news. The “worst,” he said, were CNN (“liars!”) and NBC.
This is where we are. The President-elect does not care who knows how unforgiving or vain or distracted he is. This is who he is, and this is who will be running the executive branch of the United States government for four years.
The over-all impression of the meeting from the attendees I spoke with was that Trump showed no signs of having been sobered or changed by his elevation to the country’s highest office. Rather, said one, “He is the same kind of blustering, bluffing blowhard as he was during the campaign.”
Another participant at the meeting said that Trump’s behavior was “totally inappropriate” and “fucking outrageous.” The television people thought that they were being summoned to ask questions; Trump has not held a press conference since late July. Instead, they were subjected to a stream of insults and complaints—and not everyone absorbed it with pleasure.
“I have to tell you, I am emotionally fucking pissed,” another participant said. “How can this not influence coverage? I am being totally honest with you. Toward the end of the campaign, it got to a point where I thought that the coverage was all about [Trump’s] flaws and problems. And that’s legit. But, I thought, O.K., let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. After the meeting today, though—and I am being human with you here—I think, Fuck him! I know I am being emotional about it. And I know I will get over it in a couple of days after Thanksgiving. But I really am offended. This was unprecedented. Outrageous!”
Kellyanne Conway, who managed Trump’s campaign and who is now his senior adviser, said that the meeting had been “very cordial, candid, and honest.”
Participants said that Trump did not seem entirely rational about his criticism of the media, nor did he appear any more informed about policy than he had been during the campaign. When one participant pointed out that all Presidents and Presidential candidates believe they get bad press, Trump said, “Not Obama!”
In fact, Trump went on at length about how much he has come to like the current President—how “great” they are getting along and how he “loves” Obama. He said that since the two met at the White House, two weeks ago, they have spoken twice on the phone. When I interviewed Obama for nearly two hours last week, he was obviously doing his best to avoid insulting or provoking a man whom he had previously declared “unfit” and “uniquely unqualified” for the Presidency. During the President’s trip to Europe and Peru, sources said, one foreign leader after another came to Obama in a mood of shock and alarm, including Angela Merkel, of Germany.
The one topic that seemed to elicit real seriousness from Trump, now that he has been briefed by intelligence officials, attendees said, is the situation in North Korea.
Sitting at a large conference table and flanked by his top aides, including Stephen Bannon, Jared Kushner, Reince Priebus, and Conway, Trump also told the attendees that Mitt Romney, who had been an unvarnished critic during the campaign, now “desperately wants” to be Secretary of State under Trump. The two men met at Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, over the weekend. It was unclear if Trump was going to give the job to Romney or was, instead, toying with his onetime adversary. People at the session, however, came away believing that Trump was preparing to nominate General James Mattis as Secretary of Defense.
The participants all shook Trump’s hand at the start of the session and congratulated him, but things went south from there. The attendees included around two dozen anchors and executives from CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox, and ABC, including Lester Holt, Chuck Todd, Wolf Blitzer, Gayle King, David Muir, and Martha Raddatz. The Trump people did say that they would allow the new President to be followed, as tradition has had it, by a team of pool reporters.
Participants said that Trump did not raise his voice, but that he went on steadily at the start of the meeting about how he had been treated poorly. “It was all so Trump,” one said. “He is like this all the time. He’ll freeze you out and then be nice and humble and sort of want you to like him.”
“But he truly doesn’t seem to understand the First Amendment,” the source continued. “He doesn’t. He thinks we are supposed to say what he says and that’s it.”
Trump abruptly cancelled a planned meeting on Tuesday with the Times in a tweet, saying that “the terms and conditions of the meeting were changed at the last moment. Not nice.” (A Times spokeswoman said that the publication “did not change the ground rules at all and made no attempt to.”) In another tweet, Trump noted, “Perhaps a new meeting will be set up with the @nytimes. In the meantime they continue to cover me inaccurately and with a nasty tone!” However, after the initial posting of this article, he changed his mind, and agreed to an on-the-record meeting with reporters, editors, and columnists.
David Remnick has been editor of The New Yorker since 1998 and a staff writer since 1992.
Trump v the media: did his tactics mortally wound the fourth estate?: From a bonanza of free airtime to an overt media campaign against him, Donald Trump was a candidate covered like no other. But were journalists unwitting accomplices in his election? And where does the industry go from here?