In the words of Kellyanne Conway, senior adviser to Donald Trump, a Nov. 21 meeting between Trump and top television journalists and news executives was a "reset." Seeing as Trump tweeted about the "crooked media" just hours later, I think it's safe to assume that relations between the president-elect and TV news media outlets haven't actually been reset. In fact, Trump calling the media in for an off-the-record meeting seems more like a warning — tread lightly or you'll lose your access. Otherwise why would going off-the-record be necessary? At least that's my initial thought.
Trump hosted the meeting at his New York City Trump Tower, accompanied by chief White House strategist Steve Bannon, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, and his son-in-law Jared Kushner. Executives and journalists from ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox News, and NBC, as well as other networks, attended, Business Insider reported. According to The Washington Post, anonymous sources present at the meeting claimed that Trump told CNN and NBC that they were being biased against him.
On one hand, a source told CNNMoney that in terms of media access to the Trump administration, "real progress" was made. On the other hand, Trump making negative comments about the media is nothing new; throughout his time on the campaign trail, Trump called reporters "the lowest form of humanity," blacklisted news outlets, and threatened to "open up libel laws." And during the meeting, which participants described to The Washington Post as reportedly "contentious but generally respectful," Trump allegedly continued to critique media coverage, calling it "dishonest," and "unfair."
But a major issue with Trump and his treatment of the media is a reduction in accessibility that hasn't been seen under any other modern president. Three days after his election, President Obama held a press conference. Despite Trump being elected close to two weeks ago, the president-elect has yet to hold his own press conference. Yes, he appeared on 60 Minutes, released statements, and even made a video update about the transition and his policy plans, but none of that compares to the normal access the press has to the president or president-elect.
Presidents are always accompanied by a "protective pool," a group of reporters cleared by the Secret Service who always accompany the president (and president-elect) to public appearances. This protected pool then reports information about the President to other reporters outside of the pool. And somehow, within less than two weeks, Trump has managed to ditch his pool twice. Even during his candidacy, he refused to travel on the same plane as the press. (To be fair, his opponent Hillary Clinton started out with this same policy, but she later allowed the press to travel on the same plane, according to NBC News.)
Still, Trump is scheduled to have two meeting with The New York Times' publisher and journalists on Nov. 22, with one of the meetings being on-the-record, the Washington Post reported. This is progress considering how he has threatened to sue the New York Times before, and how he continues to publicly insult the publication.
As president-elect, Trump has a responsibility to the American people to embrace press coverage. Presidents' actions impact the country as a whole; rather than worrying about unflattering photographs of himself, or banning news outlets and threatening to sue newspapers, Trump should be doing his best to, as he says, "Make America great again."