Trump escalates war with news media, cancels meeting with New York Times – Washington Post
Trump’s apparent decison, conveyed by campaign manager Kellyanne Conway in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,’’ is a change from his campaign rhetoric, in which he issued incendiary calls for a special prosecutor to reopen the FBI’s closed investigation of Clinton’s use of a private server while secretary of state and had also urged investigations of allegations of corruption at the Clinton Foundation. He nicknamed the Democratic nominee “Crooked Hillary” and encouraged chants of “Lock her up!” at his rallies.
Trump’s decision to pursue or not pursue a criminal investigation from the Oval Office would be an extraordinary break with political and legal protocol, which holds that the attorney general and FBI make decisions on whether to conduct investigations and file charges, free of pressure from the president.
Conway said Trump now sees things differently. “I think when the president-elect, who’s also the head of your party, tells you before he’s even inaugurated that he doesn’t wish to pursue these charges, it sends a very strong message, tone and content” to fellow Republicans, she said. “Look, I think he’s thinking of many different things as he prepares to become the President of the United States, and things that sound like the campaign are not among them,” she added.
Trump has not spoken directly about his apparent change of heart but hinted at it in a post-election interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes.’’
“I’m going to think about it,” he said. “I don’t want to hurt them, I don’t want to hurt them. They’re, they’re good people.’’
Trump’s conciliatory gesture stood in contrast to his continued fights on Twitter. The president-elect escalated his longstanding battle with the media on Tuesday, temporarily cancelling a meeting at The New York Times and blasting the publication on Twitter hours after he criticized TV journalists at another contentious sit-down.
Trump had scheduled two meetings with the publisher and journalists from the Times on Tuesday, including one on-the-record session. But the president-elect, who frequently attacked the paper during his campaign, suddenly cancelled the events in a series of tweets.
“I cancelled today’s meeting with the failing @nytimes when the terms and conditions of the meeting were changed at the last moment. Not nice,’’ Trump wrote to his nearly 16 million followers on the micro-blogging site. “Perhaps a new meeting will be set up with the @nytimes,’’ he continued. “In the meantime they continue to cover me inaccurately and with a nasty tone!’’
Times editors and reporters also took to Twitter to deny Trump’s account. Clifford Levy, the paper’s assistant masthead editor, tweeted out an official response saying it was the president-elect who had tried to change the ground rules by seeking only a private meeting. “We did not change the ground rules at all and made no attempt to,’’ Levy wrote. “We were unaware that the meeting was cancelled until we saw the President Elect’s tweet this morning.’’
Times columnist Nicholas Kristof went further, tweeting: “Mr. President-Elect, no reason to be scared of Times journalists!’’
However, by mid-morning, word came down from Trump Tower that the meeting was back on. The Times also released a statement saying: “Mr. Trump’s staff has told us that the President Elect’s meeting with The Times is on again. He will meet with our publisher off-the-record and that session will be followed by an on-the-record meeting with our journalists and editorial columnists.”
The extraordinary spectacle of a man about to become president and one of its leading newspapers engaging in a Twitter war underscores how Trump’s always contentious relations with the media have deteriorated even further since his election. The relationship between presidents and those who cover them is often an adversarial one, but media experts say Trump’s blasts against reporters — he called them the “lowest form of humanity” during the campaign — have broken new ground.
His Twitter spat with the Times came one day after Trump did sit down with television news executives and some well-known TV journalists — and repeatedly told them the campaign reporting about him was “unfair” and “dishonest.”
Participants in the meeting at Trump Tower in New York described it as a contentious but generally respectful gathering.