President-elect Donald Trump has met with a select few media executives and television anchors in an off-the-record meeting. While the conference was billed as a reset for the business mogul and the media, he allegedly took the opportunity to blast attendees for covering him negatively.
On Nov. 21, roughly 25 prominent television executives and reporters gathered at Trump Tower in New York to privately discuss the relationship between a Trump administration and the media. While the conference was off the record, it reportedly proved to be highly contentious.
"It was like a f***ing firing squad," one anonymous source told the New York Post.
"The meeting was a total disaster," the source added. "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 president-elect reportedly singled out Jeff Zucker, president of CNN, and told him: "I hate your network, everyone at CNN is a liar and you should be ashamed."
There have been conflicting accounts about how intense Trump was in his verbal attacks, but there has been a consensus view that the president-elect used the private meeting as an opportunity to criticize media figures who he believed had given him unfair coverage, Politico reports.
Allegedly, Trump accused Deborah Turness, president of NBC News, of running a network that chooses to showcase pictures of him with a double-chin. Turness reportedly replied that the NBC News website was currently featuring very flattering pictures of him.
One anonymous source said that the president-elect repeatedly accused everyone in the private meeting of being a liar.
"Trump kept saying, 'We're in a room of liars, the deceitful, dishonest media who got it all wrong,'" the source said.
Trump allegedly railed against NBC News reporter Katy Tur and correspondent Martha Raddatz while fielding heated questions from reporters Gayle King, David Muir and Chuck Todd.
Another anonymous source said that the meeting was contentious at first but grew progressively more cordial and substantive after Trump was able to get his dislike of the media off of his chest. The business mogul purportedly called for him and the media to have a "reset."
Following the meeting, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told reporters that the gathering had gone well and characterized the president-elect's relationship with the media as positive.
"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."
When asked about Trump's alleged berating of attendees, Conway responded: "He did not explode in anger."
On Nov. 22, Trump was scheduled to have an off-the-record meeting with publishers of The New York Times with an on-the-record meeting with the newspaper's reporters afterward. The business mogul abruptly canceled the meeting and took to social media to blast the newspaper team, The Washington Post reports.
"I [canceled] today's meeting with the failing [New York Times] when the terms and conditions of the meeting were changed at the last moment," Trump tweeted out. "Not nice … they continue to cover me inaccurately and with a nasty tone!"
Clifford Levy, assistant masthead editor to The New York Times, responded on social media that their team had not altered any rules of the meeting and that they had been unaware of the cancelation until Trump began blasting them on Twitter.