Omarosa Manigault, President Donald Trump's director of communications for public liaison, reportedly walked out of an event held by the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) after accusing a journalist of "attacking" her.
According to AFRO, Manigault, who previously starred on "The Apprentice," had contacted the NNPA and asked if she could attend a breakfast meeting the group was hosting on March 23. The meeting was a celebration of the 190th anniversary of the Black Press.
Manigault attended, but she reportedly became irate when a reporter pressed her on an off-the-record promise she had allegedly made during the presidential transition. The promise was that NNPA President Benjamin Chavis would be the first person to interview Trump once he assumed office.
Journalist Hazel Trice Edney had elaborated on the issue in a piece she wrote on Jan. 8.
"Manigault’s promise of the interview was disclosed after a representative of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) stressed the importance of black reporters interfacing with the president," Edney wrote at the time. "Both Chavis and NABJ representatives participated in the closed door meeting held Jan. 4 at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in North West DC."
As it happened, Chavis was not granted the first interview with Trump. In fact he is still waiting for his interview. So Edney, who was in attendance at the breakfast meeting, asked Manigault for an explanation.
"Ben Chavis was never promised the first interview," Manigault responded, reports NewsOne. "He was promised an interview, but not the first. And I was very surprised … that you wrote such a dishonest story about a closed off the record meeting. ... I was really surprised that you made that a press story because that was inaccurate. And moreover, you weren’t in the room."
When Edney countered that her information was accurate and asked whether the interview was ever going to take place, the exchange became heated.
"Your article did more damage to NNPA and their relationship with the White House because it’s not just me," Manigault said. "So you attack me, they circle the wagons. So you can keep attacking me and they will continue to circle the wagons, but that does not advance the agenda of what NNPA is doing."
"I’m going to continue to work with Ben Chavis, who I adore, to make sure that we do what we said we were going to do," she continued. "Interestingly enough, we were just talking about this privately over here. And so, if you want to make another headline or do another story about it, I think that is really not professional journalism."
Following pointed questions from two other reporters about the lack of access given to the Black Press, Manigault stormed out of the meeting with her staffers. She had reportedly been there about 10 minutes.
The audience was taken aback.
"How is she going to come in here and just walk out?" Chicago Crusader Publisher Dorothy Leavell said, adding, "It was totally disrespectful."
Others told Edney that she was partly to blame for the incident.
"With all due respect to you, Hazel, it came off as a bit confrontational," GOP consultant Dennard told her. "It came off as being a little bit on the attack."
But as far as NNPA Chair Denise Rolark Barnes is concerned, Manigault's behavior is inexcusable.
"To me, I almost feel as if we were baited," she told Edney. She continued:
I expected a different presentation from her, which would have led us into asking a different set of questions about the issues she was going to raise and not get into this personal confrontation with a journalist. So I’m disappointed that she didn’t, in my opinion, come in and speak on the president’s and on the administration's behalf about things that are important to this administration that the Black Press should be focusing on. That didn’t happen. It was a lost opportunity for the president. And it was definitely a waste of time for NNPA.