The tick-tock of this on-again, off-again meeting isn't really the point, although the details are here if you're interested. In short, Trump apparently agreed to an off-the-record sit-down with his nemeses at the Times, then something about the arrangement changed, triggering the president-elect to (very publicly) pull the plug. Once that happened, the disagreement was smoothed over, and the planned discussion was back on. What's more interesting to me is the clear signals that Trump has no intention of abandoning his campaign-era combative posture toward the mainstream media. His message seems to be that if there's going to be hostility from the press, they can expect him to respond in kind. Hence, these tweets emerged when Trump (fairly or unfairly) sensed a bait-and-switch:
I cancelled today's meeting with the failing @nytimes when the terms and conditions of the meeting were changed at the last moment. Not nice— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 22, 2016
Perhaps a new meeting will be set up with the @nytimes. In the meantime they continue to cover me inaccurately and with a nasty tone!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 22, 2016
Lo and behold:
As we wrote earlier, Trump reportedly scolded news executives and anchors from a number of networks in an off-the-record confab yesterday, emphasizing his belief that their treatment of him during the election as unfair. Whether or not one concurs with that assessment in total, in part, or not at all, most Americans agree with Trump on this particular point. Rather than adopting the Obama approach of blowing smoke at a fawning press corps (the luxury of which Trump doesn't have), then knifing them with a smile on actual transparency, President-Elect Trump appears to be laying the groundwork for a multi-year war of attrition with the media. He's shown an ability to go over their heads using tweets -- which they can't help but cover -- to make his voice heard; plus, his new YouTube video laying out his plan for the first 100 days of his presidency is another instance of speaking directly to the public without grappling with questions or challenges from the press:
As a journalist, I believe in more access and more transparency, and was harshly critical of Hillary Clinton's evasions of subjecting herself to sustained questioning during the campaign. That same principle must also apply to Donald Trump, especially since he's going to be president now. Nevertheless, from a political standpoint, he's doing what has obviously worked for him. And he's doing so while punishing a mainstream media that has been extraordinarily critical of him -- in some cases announcing that it was their duty not to cover him fairly. I'll leave you with an interesting theory from Ed Morrissey: Did Trumpworld hype a dust-up with the New York Times, a paper reviled by the GOP base, as a 'look-over-here' distraction from the trial balloon that his administration will not seek to pursue a criminal case against Crooked Hillary after all?