Donald Trump met with Condé Nast’s top editors at 1 World Trade Center today for an off-the-record (surprise!) chat. The meeting included artistic director Anna Wintour, who turned down Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter‘s offer to sit out the meeting so that Trump would be saved from being in a room with someone who dared mock him in the past, or, “I don’t want to make him feel uncomfortable,” was how Carter put it to Wintour, according to Politico’s Joe Pompeo. Because making politicians feel comfortable is what journalism is all about.
We should note that the OTR offer was made by Condé Nast and was extended to both Trump and Hillary Clinton during the elections. Clinton accepted and had a meeting; Trump did not until now. We should also point out that this is not the first, nor the last, OTR offer media orgs and journalists will accept or extend to Trump. But the ubiquity of the practice is not a defense of it.
Since it was off the record, we won’t know what was discussed beyond a broad listing of topics that included “race, hate crimes, Russia, Putin, climate change, women, feminism and abortion,” and this, according to Politico:
“It was not like the TV thing which began with a long, angry rant about how awful CNN and the rest were,” the participant said of the Condé Nast meeting. “But the questions themselves were very good, one per customer.”
Prior to the meeting, Carter had said to Pompeo:
“I don’t know what there is to learn from this. Obviously there’s a novelty aspect to the whole thing,” Carter said. “I don’t think he’s gonna say anything new here that he hasn’t said before. If I was advising him, I’d say to ignore me completely.”
Questions we’re wondering about that we’ll probably never get answers to: Did Carter learn anything? Did anyone? Are off the record meetings worth it? Are they worth anything?