Just yesterday Trump called a summit of all the major mainstream media executives and anchors at Trump Tower. While many expected the meeting to be an oppotunity to ask questions of the president-elect, the media elites apparently got the surprise of their lives when Trump spent the majority of the meeting attacking they're blatant biased coverage the 2016 presidential elections referring to the room as a bunch of "dishonest, deceitful liars." One participant in the meeting described it as a "f—ing firing squad” after “Trump started with Jeff Zucker and said "I hate your network, everyone at CNN is a liar and you should be ashamed…." We suspect that was rather less cordial than they expected.
Despite the conversation being completely off the record, many of the"emotionally fucking pissed" media anchors have decided to blow their embargoes and lash out at Trump. According to one source interviewed by the New Yorker, the meeting at Trump Tower was "fucking outrageous." The same source also questioned how he could remain impartial after the meeting saying "How can this not influence coverage?"...yes, because coverage was so impartial up until yesterday.
Another participant at the meeting said that Trump’s behavior was “totally inappropriate” and “fucking outrageous.” The television people thought that they were being summoned to ask questions; Trump has not held a press conference since late July. Instead, they were subjected to a stream of insults and complaints—and not everyone absorbed it with pleasure.
“I have to tell you, I am emotionally fucking 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, Fuck 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 raise his voice, but that he went on steadily at the start of the meeting about how he had been treated poorly. “It was all so Trump,” one said. “He is like this all the time. He’ll freeze you out and then be nice and humble and sort of want you to like him.”
“But he truly doesn’t seem to understand the First Amendment,” the source continued. “He doesn’t. He thinks we are supposed to say what he says and that’s it.”
And, as the eloquent Kellyanne Conway pointed out in her opening response last night on the Megyn Kelly show, negative reactions, like the one above, went a long way toward helping Trump win the presidency.
What are the chances that the mainstream media figures out before 2020 that by relentlessly attacking Trump they're actually helping him?
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Here is our full coverage of the Trump "media summit" that was described by some as a "f—ing firing squad":
Earlier today we reported that in a "summit" organized by Trump's campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, executives and anchors from the major US media outlets, including CNN president Jeff Zucker, ABC News president James Goldston, Fox News co-presidents Bill Shine and Jack Abernethy, and NBC News president Deborah Turness, visited Donald Trump at his Trump Tower penthouse for an off the record meeting.
Courtesy of the Post, we have a complete list of the participants at the Trump media meeting: the hour-long powwow included top execs from network and cable news channels. Among the attendees were NBC’s Deborah Turness, Lester Holt and Chuck Todd, ABC’s James Goldston, George Stephanopoulos, David Muir and Martha Raddatz, CBS’ Norah O’Donnell John Dickerson, Charlie Rose, Christopher Isham and Gayle King, Fox News’ Bill Shine, Jack Abernethy, Jay Wallace, Suzanne Scott, MSNBC’s Phil Griffin and CNN’s Jeff Zucker and Erin Burnett.
The contents of what was discussed were initially unclear.
Now, according to the Post and Politico, we learn that the President-elect "exploded at media bigs in an off-the-record Trump Tower powow on Monday."
“It was like a f—ing firing squad,” one source told the Post.
According to the Post's recound of the conversation, “Trump started with Jeff Zucker and said I hate your network, everyone at CNN is a liar and you should be ashamed…."
Jeff Zucker (left)
“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 encounter.
The Post adds that “the meeting took place in a big board room and there were about 30 or 40 people, including the big news anchors from all the networks…"
“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 network of liars.
“Trump didn’t say 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.
“Gayle 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."
Politico adds further details, according to which "Trump complained about photos of himself that NBC used that he found unflattering, the source said. Trump turned to NBC News President Deborah Turness at one point, the source said, and told her the network won’t run a nice picture of him, instead choosing “this picture of me,” as he made a face with a double chin. Turness replied that they had a “very nice” picture of him on their website at the moment."
Amusingly, since the meeting was off the record, meaning the participants agreed not to talk about the substance of the conversations, it means they will most likely be unable to confirm or deny the Post's report.
Politco's recollection of events was slightly less dramatic:
The New York Post on Monday afternoon portrayed a much more heated meeting, including a quote from one source who said the encounter was “like a f–ing firing squad.” The Post also said Trump called CNN journalists “liars” and that they should be “ashamed.” The source who spoke with POLITICO characterized the meeting as less intense, and said the discussion included Trump expressing the possibility of a “reset” of the tumultuous relationship between the president-elect and the media and that all he wants is “fairness.”
Asked how he defines fairness by a network executive, Trump said simply, “The truth.” But aside from the few moments of contention in the beginning, the source said the meeting was largely substantive.
Politico also adds that Trump, flanked by chief of staff Reince Priebus and campaign manager Kellyanne Conway at the table, also expressed annoyance at the protective press pool and the complaints over him ditching the press when he went out to dinner last week with his family after reporters were advised he was in for the night. But Priebus assured the attendees that the protective press pool will be taken care of and it would all work out.
Other attendees at the meeting from Trump's team included chief strategist Stephen Bannon, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, spokesman Jason Miller, and Republican National Committee chief strategist and communications director Sean Spicer.
Asked for comment, Miller referred POLITICO to Conway’s comments to reporters after the meeting, in which she echoed the sentiments made in the meeting about turning over a new leaf with the media.
“There was no need to mend fences,” Conway said. “It was very cordial, very genial. But it was very candid and very honest. From my own perspective, it’s great to hit the reset button.”
Conway later on Monday hit back at the New York Post report. “He did not explode in anger,” she said.
While one can have a subjective interpretuation of the nuances at the meating, one thing was clear: Trump's attempt at a 'reset' will be frowned at by the media which is not used to this kind of treatment, even if the "kindler, gentler" version of events as reported by Politico is accurate.
It also means that what has already been a conventional war between the various US media organizations and Trump, is likely about to go nuclear.
Stars Agree to Off-the-Record Meeting With Trump, Break Agreement,
Whine About Mistreatment
They all agreed that the discussions would
be “off the record”: meaning they would conceal from their
viewers what they discussed. Shortly after the meeting ended,
several of the stars violated the agreement they made, running to
the New York Post and David
Remnick of the New Yorker to
whine about Trump’s mean behavior. “The participants all shook
Trump’s hand at the start of the session and congratulated him,”
Remnick reported, “but things went south from there.” It’s
difficult to identify the shabbiest and sorriest aspect of this
spectacle, but let’s nonetheless try, as it sheds
important light on our nation’s beloved media corps and their
posture heading into a Trump presidency.
begin with, why would journalistic organizations agree to keep their
meeting with Donald Trump off the record? If you’re a
journalist, what is the point of speaking with a powerful
politician if you agree in advance that it’s all going to be kept
secret? Do they not care what appearance this creates: the most
powerful media organizations meeting high atop Trump Tower with
the country’s most powerful political official, with everyone
agreeing to keep it all a big secret from the public? Whether or not
it actually is collusion, whether or not it actually is
subservient ring-kissing in exchange for access, it certainly appears
to be that. As the Huffington Post’s Michael Calderone put
“By agreeing to such conditions, journalists expected to
deliver the news to the public must withhold details of a newsworthy
meeting with the president-elect.”
pretext these media stars offer for such meetings is unpersuasive in
the extreme. “Oh, we need,” they claim, “to negotiate access
and how we’re going to work together, and this discussion can be
productive only if everyone is confident that it won’t be
reported.” But why do media organizations need to have cooperative
access agreements with politicians? Just report on and
investigate what he says and does. Don’t agree to ground rules that
limit or subvert your ability to report aggressively. Don’t turn
yourselves into vassals in order to be granted access to the royal
to the point, nobody really believes that a discussion that
takes place in a room filled with a couple dozen TV stars and their
media bosses is going to be kept private, so the “off-the-record”
agreement does not actually foster candor. It’s instead
designed to achieve nothing other than creating a cozy atmosphere
where — just as they do at the sleazy, Versailles-like White House
Correspondents’ Dinner and on
so many other occasions —
media stars get to feel like they’re colleagues and friends with
the president rather than his adversaries.
as was completely predictable, some of the TV stars immediately
breached the off-the-record commitment they made — not by bravely
reporting what occurred but by slinking around in the dark to
anonymously whisper and gossip about what Trump said to them. Which
is worse: agreeing to an off-the-record meeting with Trump, or then
unethically violating the agreement by disclosing exactly what you
promised in advance you would not disclose? (This is not
the first time journalists
have dubiously promised Trump off-the-record privileges and then
violated their own commitments.)
there’s the content of their complaints. Trump, apparently, was
very mean to them. His tone was unpleasant and uncivil — hostile
even. He did not treat the august press corps with the respect and
admiration to which they are entitled. At least two of them ran to
David Remnick to whine about how mean and critical Trump was. Remnick
himself was outraged on their behalf and conveyed this pitifully
participant at the meeting said that Trump’s behavior was “totally
inappropriate” and “fucking outrageous.” The television people
thought that they were being summoned to ask questions; Trump has not
held a press conference since late July. Instead, they were subjected
to a stream of insults and complaints — and not everyone absorbed
it with pleasure.
have to tell you, I am emotionally fucking 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, OK, let’s
give them the benefit of the doubt. After the meeting today, though —
and I am being human with you here — I think, Fuck 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
to begin with this? First, if they really believed “that they
were being summoned to ask questions,” a form of a press
conference, then what remote justification is there for keeping it a
secret? This expectation obliterates the standard excuse offered
for why such meetings are appropriate.
I’m really sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but yes: Donald
Trump hates the U.S. media, as do the
overwhelming majority of Americans.
Even though every pampered star in that room is paid many millions of
dollars a year and is flattered on a daily basis by teams of
underlings, they are not actually entitled to respect and
admiration, especially not
from the powerful politicians they cover. The media was quite
critical of Trump, and he hates them back. If they don’t want to be
disliked by powerful politicians — if confronting hostility of this
type traumatizes them this way and sends them running to David
Remnick for therapy and comfort — then they should go find
other work. Who cares if Trump is nice to Wolf Blitzer and Phil
the above-quoted journalist pronounced themselves so profoundly
“offended,” crying: “This was unprecedented. Outrageous.” But
in the next breath the journalist said this about the brutality
they suffered: “I know I will get over it in a couple of days after
Thanksgiving.” I have no doubt that’s true. Rather than doing
their jobs and being adversarial to Trump, rather than responding to
this sort of bullying with some dignity and return aggression,
it is a very good bet that they will respond with greater
submission (the way they all stayed passively in their assigned
Trump rallies). The supreme religion of the U.S. press corps is
reverence for power; the more Trump exhibits, the more submissive
they will get. “I know I will get over it in a couple of days
after Thanksgiving.” We believe you.
after everything Trump has said — about immigrants, Muslims, women,
etc. — this is what upsets these journalists: that he criticized
them to their faces using a mean tone. Remnick writes that
“Trump whined” in the meeting and showed how “vain” he is.
That may be true, but the same is true of his anonymous friends for
whose petty grievances he is crusading. There is much oppression in
the world and many serious concerns as Trump heads to the Oval
Office; how Trump speaks to Chuck Todd and Jeff Zucker is not on that
presidents have the temptation and potential to abuse their power.
That’s why the American founders were preoccupied with creating
safeguards against that, and one of those was a free press. The
homage these TV stars and executives were prepared to make inside
Trump Tower, followed by their self-absorbed whimpering afterward,
suggests that one should look elsewhere for the vital checks
that an aggressive press must provide.