At an annual off-the-record lunch with the major U.S. television anchors today before tonight’s State of the Union speech, President Trump aired some grudges he has apparently been carrying around about NBC.
Trump had a pointed exchange with Nightly News anchor Lester Holt, said Meet The Press host Chuck Todd becomes a “monster” on the air and complained didn’t appreciate the money he made them by doing The Apprentice and blamed NBC brass for his negative press coverage.
Trump, who has derided "Sleepy Eyes" Chuck Todd for his coverage, said Todd turns into “a monster" on TV during an off-the-record White House meeting with anchors today, per @mlcalderone https://t.co/nwsXqCgec7
— Cristiano Lima (@viaCristiano) January 30, 2018
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Holt traded barbs with the president, who complained about a now infamous May 2017 interview during which he said he considered “the Russia thing” when he fired James Comey as FBI Director, which at the time was a revelation because it was at odds with the official announcements that said the firing was over other issues, such as how the Hillary Clinton email case was handled.
This was an interesting day to bring that up with the headlines still blazing from FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who oversaw the Clinton case, being forced out this week.
“The president accused Holt of editing the interview to remove Trump comments the president claimed were almost ‘Shakespearean,’ according to attendees,” reported Politico.
Holt responded that the entire interview was available to the public, and ran online.
“The president took a needling tone with Chuck Todd, the host of NBC’s Meet The Press,” Politico also reports, “telling the group that Todd’s the nicest guy int he world until he gets on the show and then becomes ‘a monster.'”
Trump also said he blames NBC for coverage he does not like, which annoys him because he made so much money for the Comcast-owned network when he was the star of The Apprentice. “He suggested the company’s brass,” reports Politico, “rather than specific journalists, were to blame” for his negative press coverage.
Trump did not discuss it at the lunch, but he got his revenge on NBC by declining the traditional pre-game presidential interview on the network this Sunday (at least so far) before the Super Bowl. President Obama did an interview with the host network during most of the years he was president.
There were about two dozen people at this year’s pre-SOTU lunch, reports Politico. They included the new CBS Evening News anchor Jeff Glor, who the president congratulated on his new job; as well as George Stephanopoulos and David Muir of ABC; Norah O’Donnell of CBS; Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum of Fox News; Jake Tapper and Wolf Blitzer of Trump’s least favorite network, CNN; Jose Diaz-Balart of Telemundo; Steve Scully of C-SPAN; Judy Woodruff and Yamiche Alcindor of PBS; and Roland Martin of TV One.
White House Communications Director Hope Hicks and Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders were on hand, as was Chief of Staff John Kelly. Vice President Mike Pence stopped by as well.
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) May 18, 2017
It was off-the-record but the White House did release a few excerpts afterward. The one which has gotten the most attention was his claim that “I want to see the country united,” adding that he wants to “bring the country back from a tremendous divisiveness” that dates back to prior administrations including President’s Obama and George W. Bush.
“Without a major event where people pull together, that’s hard to do,” said Trump. “But I would like to do it without that major event because usually that major event is not a good thing.”
Trump also spoke about immigration, housing segregation, voter suppression and how it is different being president than it was when he was a businessman.
As president, Trump said, “millions of people” are impacted by his policy on immigration.”
“Having a business background is great,” added Trump, “but often times you do things that you would never do in business because you have to also govern with heart.”
It is odd to hear that the president feels he “governs with heart” when so many of his budget moves, policies and changes have seemed cold, even cruel, from ending programs to feed school children to cutting off federal funding for seniors who receive Meals On Wheels to eliminating funds for medical research that saves millions of lives.
It just shows that Trump truly lives in a bubble where he thinks only of himself, and has an exaggerated view of his importance, and how much he helps people – when in fact whether it is the environment, health care, the handicapped or public schools, he has hurt a huge number of people.
You can be sure none of his disastrous moves will be reflected in his speech tonight.
NEW on the record quotes from President Trump's lunch with news anchors that I attended today at the White House. He was answering @JudyWoodruff's question about his first year in office. pic.twitter.com/85oHIIvRnt
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) January 30, 2018