Politico’s Michael Calderone has the scoop on the traditional State of the Union lunch the president has with TV news anchors.
In attendance Tuesday, from ABC George Stephanopoulos and David Muir, from CBS Jeff Glor and Norah O’Donnell, from CNN Jake Tapper and Wolf Blitzer, from Fox News Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, from NBC Lester Holt and Chuck Todd, from PBS Judy Woodruff and Yamiche Alcindor, also Roland Martin of TV One, Steve Scully of C-SPAN and Telemundo’s José Díaz-Balart. Notably absent, Univision’s Jorge Ramos who has sparred with Trump in the past, but Univision anchors Enrique Acevedo and Patricia Janiot did attend.
Insiders say that during the off-the-record lunch (parts of which were on the record) Trump was more boastful than angry and also gracious at times, “like when he congratulated Jeff Glor on recently becoming anchor of the CBS Evening News,” Calderone writes. But the media critic-in-chief did not hold back on familiar targets:
The president took a needling tone with Chuck Todd, the host of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” telling the group that Todd’s the nicest guy in the world until he gets on the show and then becomes “a monster.”
He had a more pointed exchange with NBC News anchor Lester Holt regarding a May 2017 interview in which the president said he considered the “Russia thing” when deciding to fire former FBI director James Comey. The president accused Holt of editing the interview to remove Trump comments the president claimed were almost “Shakespearean,” according to attendees. Holt responded that the entire interview ran online.
Trump, who starred in NBC’s “The Apprentice,” also commented during the lunch about how much money he made for the network and suggested the company’s brass, rather than the specific journalists, were to blame for coverage he doesn’t like.