Donald Trump was ‘very candid and honest’ as he met with executives and on-air anchors from the major television networks on Monday afternoon in order to ‘hit the reset button’ after a difficult election season.
Those comments came from Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s former campaign manager who is now serving as a senior adviser.
She put together the meeting between the mainstream media members and the president-elect in just two days time, and informed all those in attendance that what happened would be off the record.
As a result, Conway’s brief comments as she made her way past members of the press on her way out of the meeting on Monday provide the only details of the ‘unprecedented’ event.
The surprise get-together came as a bit of a shock given some of the comments Trump made during his campaign about the ‘dishonest media,’ and had not mentioned in a mid-morning conference call that his transition team held with reporters.
Representatives from CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, Fox Business Network, NBC, ABC, CBS were all present at the meeting.
Trump will be back at it again on Tuesday as well, with an on-the-record meeting planned between the president-elect and reporters from The New York Times. He will also meet with the paper’s publisher Arthur Sulzberger.
Past presidents and presidents-elect have held similar off-the-record meetings, but they were easier to keep secret since attendees didn’t have to tromp through a landmark gold-encrusted marble office lobby in full view of TV cameras managed by the same media companies that took part.
ABC was represented by president James Goldston and anchors George Stephanopoulos, David Muir, and Martha Raddatz.
Nightly News host Lester Holt and Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd were on hand for NBC , along with president Deborah Turness.
And rounding out the broadcast network presence at the meeting was Face the Nation host John Dickerson and the entire CBS This Morning team of Charlie Rose, Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell along with Washington Bureau Chief Chris Isham.
On the cable television side, CNN president Jeff Zucker attended on behalf of his network with on-air talent Wolf Blitzer and Erin Burnett.
Fox News had a handful of executives present at the meeting, including co-presidents Bill Shine and Abernethy, vice president of news and editorial Jay Wallace and Suzanne Scott, the vice president of programming and development at the network.
MSNBC president Phil Griffin was there for his network and Brian Jones attended for Fox Business Network.
Tight-lipped transition officials wouldn’t discuss the purpose for the meeting on Monday afternoon.
But it’s expected that the Trump team would make a cease-fire overture to end his campaign’s war on the press.
Trump referred to America’s political press corps as ‘the dishonest media, ‘the most dishonest people’ and ‘unbelievable liars’ while he ran for president, often drawing sternum-rattling boos and storms of shouted insults from his rally crowds.
He also referred to specific reporters as ‘sleaze’ and ‘slime’ when he thought their pro-Hillary Clinton biases were showing, and sometimes named them from the podium while thousands jeered.
The president-elect hasn’t held a press conference since late July.
Questions are also swirling about what his administration might do to redefine the White House’s relationship with the media.
Print, wire and broadcast reporters currently get the benefit of a lengthy on-camera briefing from a spokesperson every day, along with the chance to send a representative to follow the president everywhere in a ‘protective pool.’
The pool makes note of everything from presidential small-talk to the exact time, down to the minute, he leaves and enters the White House or individual rooms inside.
Mike McCurry, who served as press secretary to President Bill Clinton, told National Journal last week that both institutions should be re-thought.
He explained that it was a mistake for him to implement the televised briefings without any restrictions.
McCurry also said that ‘[t]he idea of nonstop body-watch pool coverage is a bit ridiculous.’
Trump has yet to take questions from the assembled press corps in a formal news-conference setting since his Election Day triumph.
He did, however, take a handful of questions from pool reporters over the weekend in between meetings with potential cabinet appointees.
And the CBS ’60 Minutes’ program aired an hour-long broadcast last Sunday that included lengthy interview segments.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, David Martosko