Trump's off-the-record cocktail party with reporters draws criticism

An off-the-record gathering between President-elect Donald Trump and members of the media earned criticism and sparked debate over whether journalists were pushing Trump enough to make himself available on-the-record.

On Sunday, some high-profile reporters and 2016 presidential campaign embeds schmoozed with Trump and members of his transition team at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, drinking and posing for individual and group pictures with the president-elect, who attended for a half-an-hour.

The online backlash to the meeting was swift after Mike Allen, former Politico reporter and founder of Axios, posted a photo from the party:

Though it is hardly uncommon for the president or their staff to meet with reporters off-the-record, many observers took issue with journalists attending the meeting despite Trump’s refusal to hold a traditional press conference.

Despite criticising Hillary Clinton the campaign trail for refusing to speak to reporters, Trump himself has not held a press conference in 144 days, breaking the custom for presidents-elect to hold press conferences several days after the election.

The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman did not criticise the meeting, but pointed out that a similar off-the-record dinner in 2015 hosted by Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta drew the ire of a number of Trump supporters and Trump-friendly media outlets.

Others lamented Trump’s frequent demonization of the press, noting how he often uses the travelling press pool as a punchline or a target at rallies.

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