May 26, 2022

A CBS reporter just revealed that Trump told her why he attacks the media, and his reason is infuriating

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CBS “60 Minutes” correspondent Lesley Stahl got the first interview with then-President-elect Donald Trump after the 2016 election, which was a huge coup at the time.


Speaking at last night’s Deadline Club Awards dinner, she revealed that what stood out to her the most from that experience was the insight Trump shared into how calculated and cynical he is when he attacks the press for bad reporting or “false news,” as he does frequently.

Stahl recalled that before the cameras rolled she was sitting in Trump’s huge Trump Tower office in New York City with him and her “60 Minutes” producer.

She realized in speaking with him, Trump was very much alike in person or in front of the camera and said what was on his mind.

She recounted her off-camera conversation with Trump:

“At one point he started to attack the press ,” said Stahl. 

“He’s attacking the press and there were no cameras, there was nothing going on,” Stahl said.

“And I said, ‘You know that is getting tired, why are you doing this? You are doing it over and over, it’s boring, it’s time to end that. You won the nomination, why do you keep hammering at this?’ ”

“And he said,” recalled Stahl, “‘You know why I do it? I do it to demean you all and discredit you all, so that when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you.’” 

Of course, Trump has gone on using this same cynical ploy ever since, not just to discredit the media who cover him, but also because it plays well to his political base, many of whom share his distrust, even dislike, for the mainstream print and electronic media.

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He does it even when he is lying and has to know he will eventually be caught fibbing, as was the case earlier this year when he was about to shake up his legal team.

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Only two weeks later Dowd was out as his chief lawyer for the Russia probe and Trump knew in advance there would be a change made.

“Despite public claims that he was happy with him,” reported CNN on March 22, “Trump complained privately in recent days that he thought Dowd was falling short of his duties, a source familiar with his thinking said.”

At times the White House has forced news organizations to run corrections or bullied them into holding back a story or some information, all of which as Stahl said was just part of a strategy to keep the press off balance and use that leverage to its advantage, if only for a short time.

There have been president’s who have lied to the press – and thus to the American people – about sensitive subjects, but it is hard to recall any chief executive who lied as often or for such petty reasons as Trump.

Thanks to Stahl we have some insight into the game Trump is playing, but that doesn’t make his practice of lying for his own purposes any less of a horrendous and unfair act.

Benjamin Locke

Benjamin Locke is a retired college professor with an undergraduate degree in Industrial Labor and Relations from Cornell University and an MBA from the European School of Management.

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