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Trump Boots Out TV Journos, Goes Knocking At NYT’s Door

Top US electronic media executives and journalists got an earful from President-elect Donald Trump on Monday when they made a pilgrimage to the 25th floor of Trump Tower to meet him. According to reports, Trump went on to call them “dishonest” and “deceitful liars” in a meeting which was meant to be an ice-breaker.

Some of the journos shared account of the meeting with David Remnick of New Yorker who in his report lashed out at the President-elect and opined the fantasy of the normalization of Trump—the idea that a demagogic candidate would somehow be transformed into a statesman of poise and deliberation after his Election Day victory—should now be a distant memory, an illusion shattered.

However, Glenn Greenwald raises an important point in The Intercept. The journalists who met Trump all agreed that the discussions would be “off the record” but later broke the agreement and ran to David Remnick to whine about Trump’s mean behavior. Greenwald is of the view that the journalists were at fault for agreeing to keep the meeting secret in the first place. The media need to look in the mirror.

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He also writes there is much oppression in the world and many serious concerns as Trump heads to the Oval Office; how Trump speaks to Chuck Todd and Jeff Zucker is not on that list.

While TV journalists came back humiliated from the Trump tower, Trump himself made a visit to the office of New York Times next day. He gave an hour-long interview to the daily, in which he appeared to be retreating  on some of his most extreme campaign promises, dropping his vow to jail Hillary Clinton, expressing doubt about the value of torturing terrorism suspects and pledging to have an open mind about climate change.

Besides, to everyone’s surprise, Trump demanded love from the writers of newspapers. Can you image Trump demanding love from The New York Times? “I’m going to get you to write some good stuff about me,” Trump said to Frank Bruni. It is to be noted that NYT is the same newspaper which had published front page editorials opposing Trump’s candidacy during the Presidential campaign and still the President-elect made a pilgrimage there. According to the newspaper, the meeting was a mix of bending and boasting.

The contrasting –rather contradictory –behaviour of Donald Trump vis-a-vis NYT journalists and TV executives and journos leads me to draw some interesting inferences. What made the US Presidsent designate seek New York Times out and pay a homage to them. He may not have gone to the NYT office with folded hands or on his knees but there was no mistaking the loud signal he was sending . That the President designate –for all his famed crude, crass and uncouth ways — was keen on a truce with NYT,  a newspaper which had declared war against him in the Presidential campaign and was openly siding with Hillary Clinton.

Now why would Trump do that. He is a businessman; a man who spent his life chasing and sealing deals which will bring profit to his company; US Presidency is his new venture. And the shrewd businessman in Donald Trump has already calculated that to make a success out of his new venture he needs to have newspapers like New York Times on his side. So he is going all out to win them over. His wooing may not deliver immediate results but it will definitely have an impact. At least NYT editors and writers will find it increasingly difficult to forever remain hostile and adversarial to a US President who is wooing them in full public view. It will also do a world of good to the image of Trump who is seen as dictatorial and undemocratic. That Trump also chose to say all the right things ( I need your love ) and made the right policy announcements ( will not prosecute Hillary Clinton etc) will also help him in making that image transformation.

Now contrast that with his meeting with TV stars and media executives whom Trump treated like and heaped humiliation on them. Whatever else he may have in mind was this Trump’s way of also striking a balance. Now he really does not want too much of a statesman like image , does he? That will leave his core constituency disillusioned who had voted for the Trump package as it is now what it SHOULD BECOME ONCE HE BECOMES PRESIDENT. So with TV stars and journalists he remained his usual abrasive, abusive self; not just putting them in their place but also comforting his constituency that White House and trappings and compulsions of power will not change their MAN.

But the bigger message is something else. That when it comes to sheer power, clout, credibility and respect it is still the Print media and the likes of NYT which rule the roost in the world most powerful and richest democracy. TV has its own compulsion. They need access , footage and are often prone to sensationalism. Even if they are kicked by the likes of Trump they will come back a begging (can one imagine a TV channel boycotting Trump or Presidential coverage for any reason for any length of time ).

For all their glamour, star power and mass appeal , the TV stars were all but booted out by Trump. In contrast he went to NYT seeking and begging for their affection. It shows that in Trump scheme of things NYT matters even though he had called it a “failing” newspaper sometime back on Twitter.

I had never imagined that this Print versus TV debate –which one of them is more relevant and credible–will be settled so decisively one day by Donald Trump.

Source - Sanjeev Srivastava / Edit Platter

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