In a semi-private meeting with CBS’ Lesley Stahl — perhaps in a rare moment of truth he would share only with a seasoned anchor whose name has been associated with the news for as many decades as Stahl’s has — Donald Trump unwittingly revealed exactly why he talks about the media the way he does.
It is simultaneously unsurprising and seriously unsettling.
During a conversation with PBS’ Judy Woodruff at the Deadline Club Awards Dinner, Stahl described an exchange she had with the president. Woodruff set the scene by reminding Stahl that she’d gotten the very first interview with Donald Trump after the election, and asked her how she dealt with Trump’s antipathy toward the press. Stahl recalled meeting with him prior to the interview in Trump Tower:
“He really is the same off-camera that he is on-camera, exactly the same. And at one point, he started to attack the press. And it’s just me and my boss and him, in a — he has a huge office — and he’s attacking the press, and there were no cameras, there was nothing going on. And I said, ‘You know, that is getting tired. Why are you doing this? You’re doing it over and over, and it’s boring, and it’s time to end that. You know, you’ve won the [election]. Why do you keep hammering at this?'”
Trump’s response could not be more Trumpian if he spent a week and a half crafting the perfect tweet to say it in:
“You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all, so when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you.”
It’s not particularly difficult to believe that Trump said something like that, but it’s another thing entirely to hear it out loud in a room full of people. Silence descended on the Deadline Club Dinner, as Lesley finished her anecdote:
“He said that. So… Put that in your head for a minute.”
Watch the stunning exchange here:
Featured image via Alex Wong/Getty Images