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Donald Trump’s first off-the-record meeting with the press went about as well as expected

So much for meeting the press


Samantha Grasso


Posted on Nov 22, 2016   Updated on May 25, 2021, 1:14 pm CDT

About 25 executives and anchors from major news networks met with President-elect Donald Trump and others on Monday. 

The meeting, which lasted about an hour, was off the record, meaning the press agreed to not discuss the content of the conversation. But that didn’t stop the meat of the meeting from making its way through the press itself. 

According to several publications, Trump used time at the beginning of the meeting to criticize the networks and certain news anchors. Among his jabs, Trump allegedly called NBC “the worst” and complained they would broadcast photos of him with “multiple chins.” 

Trump also criticized CNN, as well as a reporter in the room who moderated a debate but was heard to have cried when Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton lost the election—either ABC‘s Martha Raddatz or NBC’s Lester Holt

Trump also said he wanted the meeting to re-frame his relationship with the press, and he took questions about his plans.

Meeting participants were photographed as they entered the Trump Tower lobby.

In attendance were also campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, incoming chief-of-staff Reince Priebus, and Republican National Committee spokesperson Sean Spicer.

Some accounts of the meeting seemed more heated than others. The New York Post reported the meeting was like a “fucking firing squad,” and reporters couldn’t get a word in edgewise, according to one source and confirmed by a second. 

“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…” the second source told the Post.

Conway later denied the sentiment to Politico, saying, “He did not explode in anger.”

According to Politico’s source who attended the meeting, the meeting was “less intense” than the New York Post made it seem, and the first few moments of contention were followed with substantive conversation. The source said Trump expressed a possible “reset” with the media and wanted fairness as defined by “the truth.”

NPR, however, reported the word “reset” was not Trump’s favorite—it allegedly reminded him of Clinton’s outreach to the Russians after becoming secretary of state.

According to NPR’s source—someone who took “detailed notes” in the meeting—Trump invited questions after about 10 to 15 minutes into the meeting. However, a second source, a network official debriefed by colleagues who attended the meeting, said the meeting didn’t feel like a genuine reset.

The New York Times reported that many of the meeting’s attendees declined to comment because of the off-the-record agreement. Some Twitter users criticized the networks and anchors for agreeing to meet Trump on such terms, asserting that access to the president-elect is less valuable than honest reporting.

On Tuesday morning, Trump cancelled a meeting with the New York Times at the last minute, claiming that “terms and conditions of the meeting were changed,” though his tweets didn’t specify which party changed the terms. 

According to the paper, a Times spokeswoman said they were unaware the meeting was cancelled until reading Trump’s tweets. 

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*First Published: Nov 22, 2016, 11:33 am CST