President-elect Donald Trump appears to be leveraging his new position as a political prop against the media after he summoned lead anchors and executives of television news to a private meeting where he reportedly delivered a defiant message that their reporting around his campaign was all wrong.
News anchors including Lester Holt from NBC, Charlie Rose from CBS, George Stephanopoulos from ABC News and Wolf Blitzer from CNN were among two dozen prominent journalists who attended an off-the-record gathering at Trump Tower yesterday (21 November).
While not unusual for journalists to agree to off-the-record sessions with prominent politicians to clear the air following a campaign, Trump’s session took a different approach.
According to anonymous members in the meeting, the 70 year-old used the opportunity to criticise many in attendance, including CNN’s president, Jeffrey A. Zucker.
Some media critics questioned why the television networks, which gave Trump hundreds of hours of free exposure during the campaign, would agree to Monday’s terms. “They learned *nothing* over past 18 months of covering Trump,” tweeted Erik Wemple of The Washington Post.
What the networks' accession to OTR terms tells us: They learned *nothing* over past 18 months of covering Trump.
— ErikWemple (@ErikWemple) November 21, 2016
Kellyanne Conway, a top adviser to Trump, described the meeting as a more hospitable affair.
It was "very cordial, very productive, very congenial,” Conway told reporters at Trump Tower.
“It was also very candid and very honest," she continued: “From my own perspective, it’s great to hit the reset button.”
Trump’s antagonism towards the media was clear throughout his presidential election campaign and the tone of the recent meeting may indicate relations remain turbulent.
It will also heighten concerns that he is unwilling to follow the traditionally affable relationship which presidents take with journalists who cover them, particularly if there is no sign of mutual trust.
There has been little sign of change in Trump’s open disdain towards the media as earlier this week he tweeted his displeasure of being parodied on Saturday Night Live.
I watched parts of @nbcsnl Saturday Night Live last night. It is a totally one-sided, biased show - nothing funny at all. Equal time for us? — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 20, 2016
Trump’s media round-up is due to continue too with more meetings scheduled with news organisations, including the New York Times.
The meeting with the Times, which was requested by Trump, is due to take place today (22 November) and will see Trump address editors, reporters, columnists and the newspaper’s publisher.
A spokesperson for the soon to be president described the meeting as an “opportunity to discuss past and future coverage”.
The meeting is likely to adopt a similar tone to that which took place at Trump Tower yesterday given the billionaire's vexation towards the publisher.
He has been highly critical of the Times in recent months, calling the newspaper the “failing” New York Times and threatening to sue for libel over an article about two women who accused him of touching them inappropriately years earlier.