US president-elect Donald Trump held a private meeting with television news executives and journalists and, according to media reports, gave them an “earful”, describing their reporting of his campaign as “unfair” and “dishonest”.
Trump’s relationship with large sections of the US media has been combative at the best of times during the campaign and some had expected the meeting arranged on Monday by his staff to be aimed at a possible rapprochement.
Instead, it was “like a f—ing firing squad”, according to one source cited by the New York Post. CNNMoney said Trump gave executives and anchors for the five top US television networks an “earful”.
Trump repeatedly told the gathering that their reporting of his campaign reporting was “unfair” and “dishonest”, according to The Washington Post.
“Instead of striking a harmonious tone to build rapport following the election, Trump was combative, participants said. In a calm and deliberate voice, he told the group sitting around a conference table that they had failed to provide their viewers with fair and accurate coverage, and told them they failed to understand him or his appeal to millions of Americans,” the Post reported.
According to The New York Times, the participants – including ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, ABC correspondent Martha Raddatz, NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt and Charlie Rose of CBS News – could have been expecting a rapprochement after a hard-fought campaign. “Instead, the president-elect delivered a defiant message: You got it all wrong,” it reported.
The participants described Trump as “combative,” “proud,” and “dismissive” toward the news organisations present.
Trump particularly singled out CNN and reporters at several networks whom he perceives as antagonistic toward him though he did not mention them by name. He also referenced NBC News reporter Katy Tur and ABC’s Raddatz without using their names.
The New York Post cited a source as saying: “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 (CNN chief) Jeff Zucker by name and said everyone at CNN was a liar, and CNN was (a) network of liars.”
The source added: “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.”
One participant asked Trump for his definition of “fair”, pointing out that part of the media’s job is to critically examine a candidate’s words and background. Trump replied his definition was “truth”.
Trump, however, made no mention of the extensive coverage of his campaign by TV networks. Some analyses have concluded that his campaign was helped by this coverage.
The hour-long meeting was off the record, meaning the participants had agreed not to speak publicly about the substance of the conversations. Trump’s senior adviser Kellyanne Conway, who arranged the meeting, described it as “very cordial, candid and honest”.
Conway said there was “no need to mend fences” and that,”from my own perspective, it is great to hit the reset button” after the hard-fought campaign.
Alt-right news outlets that are perceived as being Trump-friendly highlighted the meeting as a “take-no-prisoners move by a brave president-elect”, The New York Times reported. “Trump Slams Media Elite, Face to Face”, the Drudge Report said while Breitbart News declared “Trump Eats Press”.
Trump repeatedly attacked the media during his campaign, calling journalists the “lowest form of humanity” and his victory has raised questions about whether he will respect long-standing conventions such as coverage of the US president by a pool of reporters