Trump cancels New York Times meeting, then changes his mind

Posted at 8:36 AM, Nov 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-22 12:31:24-05

NEW YORK- On Tuesday morning President-elect Donald Trump backed out of a meeting he had called with The New York Times.

But hours later he changed his mind and decided to visit the newspaper after all.

Trump is heading over to the Times’ headquarters now, press secretary Hope Hicks told CNNMoney around 9:45 a.m.

A portion of the meeting will be an on-the-record interview, as the newspaper originally wanted.

“Mr. Trump’s staff has told us that the President Elect’s meeting with The Times is on again,” Eileen Murphy, head of communications for the Times, said in a statement. “He will meet with our publisher off-the-record and that session will be followed by an on-the-record meeting with our journalists and editorial columnists.”

Later Tuesday morning, Trump tweeted, “The meeting with the @nytimes is back on at 12:30 today. Look forward to it!”

The back-and-forth showed Trump’s impulsive nature and his combative approach toward top news organizations.

Here’s what happened:

Trump originally asked for the meeting with Times executives, and also agreed to meet on the record with reporters and columnists.

The Times announced the meeting on Monday.

But on Tuesday morning, Trump said on Twitter that the “terms and conditions” had changed at the last minute — a claim The Times denied, saying it was in fact Trump who had tried to alter the conditions.

“Not nice,” Trump said in an early morning tweet. He called the newspaper “failing,” a favorite insult.

In a second tweet minutes later, the president-elect said: “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!”

A front-page story in The Times on Tuesday questioned whether Trump’s business deals will test a provision of the Constitution that blocks office-holders from accepting certain gifts and profits from foreign governments.

The Times and other news organizations have also reported extensively on the unprecedented conflicts of interest posed by Trump’s hundreds of business holdings around the world.

The Times also reported that Trump recently asked British politician Nigel Farage to oppose offshore wind farms that Trump believed would damage the view from one of his Scottish golf courses.

The Times said it only learned through Trump’s tweets that the meeting was off.

“We did not change the ground rules at all and made no attempt to,” Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy told CNNMoney.

She said Trump’s representatives had asked only for a private meeting, with nothing on the record. But she said the two sides later agreed to a small off-the-record session and a larger, on-the-record session with reporters and columnists.

In a third tweet, Trump said The New York Times had “announced” that “complaints about them are at a 15 year high.”

In a November 19 column, the newspaper’s public editor, Liz Spayd, said the number of complaints to her office is “five times the normal level.” She said letters to the editor, which are not necessarily complaints about coverage, are coming in at the highest level since September 11, 2001.

“There is a searing level of dissatisfacton out there with many aspects of the coverage,” she wrote.

Trump responded that he “can fully understand that,” but he wondered why the paper would announce that complaints were up. The reason, simply, is that the role of the public editor is to critique the newspaper’s coverage and serve as liaison between readers and the editors.

On Monday, Trump met off the record with executives and anchors from the nation’s biggest television networks to Trump Tower. Sources told CNN that he complained about media coverage and was highly critical of CNN and other news organizations.

The sources said he also answered questions, listened to journalists’ arguments about the importance of access, and committed to making improvements.