When Donald Trump was a colorful real-estate developer, he soaked up media coverage like it was sunshine. Now that he’s about to become the next President of the United States, he seems to have had enough of it.
In what two people familiar with the incident described as a tough sit-down between the nation’s major TV-news outlets and the President-elect and his top advisers, Trump dressed down top executives and anchors Monday afternoon, reserving particularly harsh words for CNN and NBC News. The off-the-record meeting, convened by Trump’s staff over the last day or two, was rancorous, one of these people said, and not much substantive discussion was held, although there was some talk about his goals for shaping immigration policy, this person said.
Spokespersons for CNN and NBC News did not offer immediate comment. A Trump spokesperson could not be reached for immediate comment. Executives and anchors from CBS News, ABC News and Fox News were also in attendance.
The meeting could serve to dash hopes that the Trump administration would prove willing to discuss issues of media coverage and candidate access, which have been sore points with media outlets in recent weeks. The U.S. President and President-elect both typically travel with a “protective pool” of reporters in tow, but in at least two instances in recent days, Trump has moved without a press entourage. He and his family went out for dinner without notifying a pool assigned to him, and he also traveled to Washington, D.C., without press alongside him.
CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker raised the issue of the pool, according to one of the people with knowledge of the meeting, but Trump appeared disinterested in the topic. He kicked the question to Reince Preibus, the former Republican National Committee chairman who will serve as Trump’s chief of staff.
Other Trump confidantes present at the meeting included adviser Steve Bannon and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner. The president-elect’s wife, Melania Trump, made an appearance, according to the people familiar with the situation.
The meeting was viewed as something of a “re-set,” one of the people said. Trump hoped his severe talk, which also included a walk through the way his campaign boosted cable-news ratings and a dig at a popular female anchor whose identity could not be immediately confirmed, would start a new chapter between his administration and the media. He is expected to meet with New York Times executives and editorial personnel this week.
A who’s who of TV news personnel attended the summit, held in Trump Tower in New York. Bill Shine and Jack Abernethy, co-presidents of Fox News attended, according to these people, along with Deborah Turness, president of NBC News; Jeff Zucker, president of CNN Worldwide; James Goldston, president of ABC News; and Phil Griffin, president of MSNBC. David Rhodes, president of CBS News, was unable to be present, these people said.
Others attending included Erin Burnett and Wolf Blitzer from CNN; John Dickerson of CBS’ “Face the Nation”; Charlie Rose, Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell from “CBS This Morning”; Chris Isham, Washington Bureau Chief of CBS News; George Stephanopoulos and Martha Raddatz from ABC News; Lester Holt and Chuck Todd of NBC News; and Jay Wallace executive vice president of news for Fox News; Brian Jones, executive vice president of Fox Business Network; and Suzanne Scott, executive vice president of programming for Fox News.