*Donald Trump’s meeting with America’s television news media on Monday was supposed to be off the record, as well as a way, according to his press secretary Kellyanne Conway, to “hit the restart button” with a press he claims is biased against him.
But The New Yorker’s David Remnick and two reporters from The New York Post were able to get details from the gathering at Trump Tower, which apparently turned into a chance for Trump to bash the media to its face.
“It was like a f−−−ing firing squad,” one source told the Post.
The meeting reportedly included executives Jeff Zucker of CNN, James Goldston of ABC, Deborah Turness of NBC, Jack Abernethy and Bill Shine of Fox News, and Phil Griffin of MSNBC; also anchors including Lester Holt, David Muir, George Stephanopoulos, Gayle King, Charlie Rose, Norah O’Donnell, Wolf Blitzer, John Dickerson, Chuck Todd, Erin Burnett, and Martha Raddatz.
Here’s an excerpt from Remnick’s report for The New Yorker:
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.
“I have to tell you, I am emotionally f***ing 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, F**k 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!”
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.
Here’s an excerpt from the New York Post’s report of the same meeting:
“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.”
Kellyanne Conway told reporters outside that 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.