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.
Reporters shouldn’t pal around off-the-record with Trump until he agrees to have a public, on-the-record news conference. Grow a backbone https://t.co/3Tb59y7g4M
— Will Bunch (@Will_Bunch) December 19, 2016
Trump hasn’t had a press conference in 143 days.
Obama did OTRs, too. Problem is if Trump isn’t also answering questions on the record. And he hasn’t held a press conference since July. https://t.co/JTqdJz1fpX
— Michael Calderone (@mlcalderone) December 19, 2016
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.
Will the same people who treated the Podesta dinner like some kind of conspiracy react same to Trump/reporters evening?
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) December 19, 2016
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.
don’t pose for pictures with men who turn crowds against you
— Matt Pearce (@mattdpearce) December 19, 2016
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