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Inside Donald Trump’s Heated Meeting With Media Execs: What Really Happened?

President-elect Donald Trump had an off-the-record chat with several top media executives and on-air talent from major networks at NYC’s Trump Tower on Monday, November 21, intended to clear the air after a tough election. 

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While The New York Post reported that the meeting was like a “firing squad” and very heated, other outlets said that progress had been made with the soon-to-be commander in chief who lambasted the media as “dishonest” throughout his campaign.

Donald Trump Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Post claimed that the 70-year-old business mogul yelled at the attendees during the tense meeting. “The meeting was a total disaster,” a source told the newspaper. “The TV execs and anchors went in there thinking they would be discussing the access they would get to the Trump administration, but instead they got a Trump-style dressing-down.”

He even singled out certain executives, according to the newspaper. “Trump kept saying, ‘We’re in a room of liars, the deceitful, dishonest media who got it all wrong.’ He addressed everyone in the room, calling the media dishonest, deceitful liars. He called out Jeff Zucker by name and said everyone at CNN was a liar, and CNN was [a] network of liars,” the insider said. “Trump didn’t say [NBC reporter] Katy Tur by name, but talked about an NBC female correspondent who got it wrong, then he referred to a horrible network correspondent who cried when Hillary [Clinton] lost who hosted a debate — which was Martha Raddatz, who was also in the room.” 

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On the other hand, a source told CNNMoney that there was “real progress” with regards to media access. The site also says that while Trump let his frustrations with the media be known, “he also answered questions, listened to the journalists’ arguments about the importance of access and committed to making improvements.”

Kellyanne Conway, a top adviser to Trump and his former campaign manager, told reporters after the meeting that it went well, The New York Times reports. “It was very cordial, very productive, very congenial,” she said. “It was also very candid and very honest.” 

An insider told Us Weekly that the sit-down was a mixture of all accounts. “It was … not as colorful as [the New York Post] made it sound. It was not like The Apprentice with him telling everyone they are fired or anything, but it was like a reality show,” the source tells Us. “Everyone thought they were going there to figure out how to work together, and he ended up just telling them how disappointed he was in certain things. … Essentially what the Post said happened, but it was much less dramatic than that. It was really the press trying to figure out how best to work with him and Trump not giving many answers.”

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The former Apprentice host was also supposed to meet with The New York Timesa paper he’s publicly criticized and ridiculed on many occasions — on Tuesday, November 22, and answer on-the-record questions, unlike the Monday meeting. Shortly before the tête-à-tête, Trump took to Twitter to announce that he had called it off.

“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,” he tweeted around 6 a.m. Tuesday. “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!”

The New York Times’ senior vice president for communications, Eileen M. Murphy, countered Trump’s tweets in a statement: “We were unaware that the meeting was canceled until we saw the president-elect’s tweet this morning. We did not change the ground rules at all and made no attempt to. They tried to yesterday — asking for only a private meeting and no on-the-record segment, which we refused to agree to. In the end, we concluded with them that we would go back to the original plan of a small off-the-record session and a larger on-the-record session with reporters and columnists.” 

In a turn of events, Trump then decided he did want to attend the meeting. CNN’s Brian Stelter tweeted, “Hope Hicks confirms that the Trump/NYT meeting is back ON… Trump is heading over to NYT HQ shortly… Part of the NYT visit will be an ON-the-record interview, Trump press secretary Hope Hicks tells me.” 

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