On Monday afternoon, Donald Trump held a meeting with top network anchors (including CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, along with CBS’ Charlie Rose and Gayle King) and executives. The gathering was not a customary news conference, as it was held behind closed doors. There’s a benefit to this, naturally, as the proceedings would presumably remain secret. But the danger, of course, is that “leaks” are bound to happen, and people are inclined to believe them no matter whether they’re true.
Contradictory accounts have already surfaced. Immediately after the meeting, Trump’s own personal spinmaster, Kellyanne Conway, spoke to waiting reporters and said the meeting went well: “It was very cordial. Very productive. Congenial. But it was also very candid and honest. From my own perspective, it’s great to hit the reset button.” This interpretation allows for some negative claims to follow while still maintaining a positive vibe. Conway knows what she’s doing, and she realized what was to follow.
First, the New York Post spoke to a few sources, who reveals the shindig as a mess. This report is easy enough to believe, as Trump could feel emboldened by his higher favorability rating now that election dust has begun to settle. Here’s the gist of that story with the two sources carrying a similar vibe:
“It was like a f*cking firing squad,” one source said of the encounter. “Trump started with [CNN chief] Jeff Zucker and said ‘I hate your network, everyone at CNN is a liar and you should be ashamed. 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 administration, but instead they got a Trump-style dressing down.”
A second source confirmed the fireworks. “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,” the other source said. “Trump kept saying, ‘We’re in a room of liars, the deceitful dishonest media who got it all wrong.’ He called out Jeff Zucker by name and said everyone at CNN was a liar, and CNN was [a] network of liars.”
Meanwhile, a CNN Money report has fewer details but quotes a source that notes “real progress” occurring between Trump and the press. In addition, he’s expected to meet with New York Times reporters on Tuesday. Arthur Sulzberger Jr, Times publisher, stated that he “and others are meeting with the President Elect tomorrow at the request of his team.” The meeting will begin with an off-the-record format and end with “an on-the-record session with Times reporters and editorial columnists.”
Sounds like … fun. As for a real press conference, Conway promises it will happen: “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.”