Veteran CBS journalist Lesley Stahl told a story about President Donald Trump that likely surprised few of her media colleagues at the Deadline Club Awards Dinner in New York on Monday evening.
According to Stahl, Trump told her that he continually “discredits” and “demeans” the press for a very specific reason: to sow uncertainty about the media so that “no one will believe” negative stories about him.
The “60 Minutes” reporter recalled what happened when she and her boss met with the Republican presidential nominee at Trump Tower in mid-2016. Trump eventually started bashing the press in front of them.
“I said, ‘You know, that is getting tired. Why are you doing this? You’re doing it over and over. It’s boring and it’s time to end that,’” Stahl recounted in a talk with Judy Woodruff of “PBS Newshour” at the Deadline Club event, which honors excellence in journalism.
“And he said, ‘You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all so that when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you,’” she continued. (Watch the video above.)
Stahl emphasized her amazement: “He said that.”
In an interview later that year ― the first with Trump after his victory ― the reporter found that he did not expect to fulfill some of his campaign promises to the letter. Rather, she said, he saw them as “opening bids for negotiation.”
In the months since, the president has used Twitter as a primary means of attacking journalists’ work. An Axios investigation found that the bulk of Trump’s Twitter attacks were aimed at the media and so-called “fake news” over a nine-month period last year.
CORRECTION: Stahl said Trump made his remarks about the press not after he won the presidency, but some months earlier.