Media Figures Highlight The Contrast Between Two Of Trump's Statements On Media Practices

››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

Media figures are spotlighting the contrast in Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump's various statements on the media and media processes. They note that days after Trump vowed to expand libel laws so it would be easier to sue the media, he claimed to have too much respect for the press and its off-the-record process to release the controversial record of an off-the-record meeting he had with The New York Times' editorial board.

Trump Gave Off-The-Record Interview To NY Times On Immigration; Times Is Not Releasing Audio Recording

Buzzfeed: "Donald Trump Secretly Told The New York Times What He Really Thinks About Immigration." In a February 29 article, Buzzfeed's editor-in-chief, Ben Smith, wrote that The Times "is sitting on an audio recording that some of its staff believes could deal a serious blow to Donald Trump." The audio recording is reportedly from a January 5 interview that was "part of a round of editorial board meetings" that were "conducted partly on the record and partly off the record":

The New York Times is sitting on an audio recording that some of its staff believes could deal a serious blow to Donald Trump, who, in an off-the-record meeting with the newspaper, called into question whether he would stand by his own immigration views.

Trump visited the paper's Manhattan headquarters on Tuesday, Jan. 5, as part of a round of editorial board meetings that -- as is traditional -- the Democratic candidates for president and some of the Republicans attended. The meetings, conducted partly on the record and partly off the record in a 13th-floor conference room, give candidates a chance to make their pitch for the paper's endorsement. [Buzzfeed, 2/29/16]

Days After Trump Vowed To "Open Up Our Libel Laws," He Claims Respect For Journalistic Processes

Donald Trump: "I'm Going To Open Up Our Libel Laws So When They Write Purposely Negative And Horrible And False Articles, We Can Sue Them And Win Lots Of Money" In a February 26 news conference, Trump suggested that we "open up our libel laws so when [media outlets] write ... false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money":

DONALD TRUMP: I'll tell you what, I think the media is among the most dishonest groups of people I've ever met. They're terrible. The New York Times, which is losing a fortune, which is a failing newspaper, which probably won't be around that much longer, but probably somebody will buy it as a trophy, keep it going for a little longer. But I think The New York Times is one of the most dishonest media outlets I've ever seen in my life. The worst, the worst. The absolute worst. They have an agenda that you wouldn't believe. And they're run by incompetent people. They are totally incompetently run. Washington Post, I have to tell you, I have respect for Jeff Bezos, but he bought The Washington Post to have political influence and I got to tell you, we have a different country than we used to have. We have a different -- he owns Amazon. He wants political influence so that Amazon will benefit from it. That's not right. And believe me, if I become president, oh, do they have problems. They're going to have such problems. And one of the things I'm going to do, and this is only going to make it tougher for me, and I've never said this before, but one of the things I'm going to do if I win -- and I hope I do, and we're certainly leading -- is I'm going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money. We're going to open up those libel laws. So that when The New York Times writes a hit piece, which is a total disgrace, or when The Washington Post, which is there for other reasons, writes a hit piece, we can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because they're totally protected. You see, with me, they're not protected because I'm not like other people, but I'm not taking money. I'm not taking their money. So we're going to open up those libel laws folks and we're going to have people sue you like you never got sued before. We have many things to do. We have many, many things to do. [CNN, 2/26/16]

At 11th GOP Debate, Trump Cites "Respect For [The Journalistic] Process" As Reason Not To Release Tapes Of His Off-The-Record NY Times Meeting: During the March 3 Republican debate, Trump refused to release the record from his off-the-record meeting with The New York Times' editorial board, arguing, according to The Washington Post, that "his respect for the press was too great." Trump was responding to presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, who "pressed Trump about reports that he had given an off-the-record interview ... in which Trump supposedly signaled flexibility on his hard-line positions on immigration":

Cruz, for his part, pressed Trump about reports that he had given an off-the-record interview to the New York Times editorial board in which Trump supposedly signaled flexibility on his hard-line positions on immigration.

Cruz pressed Trump to tell the Times to release a record of the off-the-record interview.

Trump refused. Earlier in the evening, he had said his respect for the press was too great. "I have too much respect for that process to say, 'Just release that,' " Trump said.

"If, in fact you went to Manhattan and said, 'I'm lying to the American people . . . ' " Cruz said.

"I've given my answer, Lyin' Ted," Trump said. [The Washington Post, 3/3/16]

Media Figures Highlight Contrast Between Trump's Two Media Statements 

Wash. Post's EJ Dionne: "#Trump Regularly Attacks The Press & Says He Has 'Too Much Respect' For Journalistic Process To Make His Off-The-Record Conversations Public."

 [Twitter.com, 3/3/16]

MSNBC's Benjy Sarlin: "Guy Threatening To Alter Libel Laws To Intimidate Journalists ... Declares Sanctity Of Off The Record Conversations."

 [Twitter.com, 3/3/16]

NPR's Scott Simon: "I Gather @RealDonaldTrump Respects Off-The-Record Interviews By News Media He Wants To Make It Easier To Sue For Libel."

 [Twitter.com, 3/3/16]

NY Times' Clyde Haberman: "Ah Yes. Trump, Who Wants To Change Libel Laws So He Can Hound Journos, Has Much Respect For The Off-The-Record 'Process.'"

[Twitter.com, 3/3/16]

LA Times' Mark Barabak: "Trump Would Change 1st Amendment So Easier To Sue Critics For Libel But 'Has Too Much Respect' For Process To Repeal Off-The-Record."

[Twitter.com, 3/3/16]

CNN: "Trump Has Proposed Changing U.S. Libel Laws ... But On Thursday Night, Trump Said The Bond Between Reporters And Politicians Who Agree To Go Off-The-Record Is Too Strong To Break." In a March 4 recap of the Republican debate, CNN's Eric Bradner wrote, "On the campaign trail, Trump has proposed changing U.S. libel laws so that politicians can more easily sue journalists. But on Thursday night, Trump said the bond between reporters and politicians who agree to go off-the-record is too strong to break":

On the campaign trail, Trump has proposed changing U.S. libel laws so that politicians can more easily sue journalists.

But on Thursday night, Trump said the bond between reporters and politicians who agree to go off-the-record is too strong to break. That, he said, is why he won't ask The New York Times to release a transcript or recording of an off-the-record conversation he had with the newspaper's editorial board about immigration.

"I think being off the record is very important. I will honor it," he said. [CNN.com, 3/4/16]

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