Powerful figures from the world of television news met privately with President-elect Donald Trump Monday amid rising concerns about Trump’s failure to accept the norms of presidential media coverage, such as a traveling press pool.
Trump hosted more than a dozen TV executives and hosts at Trump Tower midday for what senior adviser Kellyanne Conway called a “reset” meeting following the election. Conway did not tell reporters in the lobby what was discussed, describing the meeting as “off-the-record.”
Attendees from the five major networks, who started trickling in around 12:30 p.m., included CNN President Jeff Zucker, NBC News President Deborah Turness, MSNBC President Phil Griffin, Fox News presidents Jack Abernethy and Bill Shine, and Fox News executive vice presidents Jay Wallace and Suzanne Scott, according to a pool report. Wolf Blitzer and Erin Burnett of CNN; Lester Holt and Chuck Todd of NBC; George Stephanopoulos, David Muir and Martha Raddatz of ABC; and John Dickerson, Gayle King, Norah O’Donnell and Charlie Rose of CBS were among the anchors and hosts spotted entering the building.
Here’s how it went, according to our colleague Karen Tumulty:
On Monday afternoon, he had a contentious Trump Tower meeting with another one of his chief adversaries: members of the news media.
In the session with more than a dozen television executives and on-air journalists, Trump was highly critical of coverage of him, according to several people familiar with the gathering. Keeping his voice calm and his tone flippant, he told the group sitting around a conference table that they 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.
Trump expressed particular ire at CNN and at several reporters at other cable networks whom he sees as unreasonably antagonistic toward him, though he did not mention them by name.
The people variously described Trump as “combative,” “proud,” and “dismissive” toward the news organizations present. He also shrugged off the need for a constant pool covering him, they said, although he did not delve into specifics.
Here’s more detail from our colleague Paul Farhi:
Instead of striking a harmonious tone to build a rapport after 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 he told them that they failed to understand him or his appeal to millions of Americans.
Trump showed no love for the media during the long campaign, calling reporters the “lowest form of humanity.” And on Monday he repeatedly used the words “unfair” and “dishonest” to describe the coverage, participants said.
But he made no mention of the enormous amount of airtime that the networks, especially on cable, devoted to his campaign. A number of analyses have noted that Trump’s presidential effort was boosted by the news media’s fascination with him.
Trump directed particular ire at CNN and several reporters at other cable networks whom he sees as unreasonably antagonistic toward him, though he did not mention them by name. He also referenced both NBC News reporter Katy Tur and ABC’s Raddatz without using their names.
The meeting was the first of at least two scheduled between the incoming president and the media this week. Conway said representatives from the New York Times will meet with Trump on Tuesday. According to a report from the Huffington Post, Trump will meet with New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger and speak on-the-record with Times journalists and columnists.
Early Tuesday morning, Trump tweeted he cancelled the meeting with the Times. Later, aides confirmed the meeting was reinstated.
Unlike his predecessors, Trump has not held a news conference since winning the election on Nov. 8. “The man works 18 hours a day interviewing people, taking calls from all around the world. He will have a press conference in due course,” Conway said.