But Trump reversed course a few hours later and is heading to the Times, according to his spokeswoman. And it appears the Times, which rejected a request for the entire visit to be off the record, has gotten its way.
Trump’s early morning Twitter tirade, followed by an abrupt change of plans, is emblematic of his tumultuous relationship with the news media. The president-elect has craved the attention of the press, and perhaps its approval, over the past 18 months, while also demonstrating more hostility to journalists than any previous presidential candidate.
Trump was scheduled to meet off-the-record with Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and a few other key representatives of the paper before participating in an on-the-record session with the reporters and editorial columnists, a Times spokeswoman told The Huffington Post on Monday.
But Trump claimed early Tuesday that the “failing” paper changed the ground rules, prompting him to back out.
A Times spokeswoman told HuffPost on Tuesday that the paper did not change the conditions, but that Trump’s team had requested the visit only be off-the-record.
“We were unaware that the meeting was cancelled until we saw the President Elect’s tweet this morning,” said Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy. “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,” she continued. “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.”
The meeting was considered off until Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks
told reporters at Trump Tower that it was back on. The ground rules appear to be the same as previously agreed upon.
“Mr. Trump’s staff has told us that the President Elect’s meeting with The Times is on again,” Murphy said in a second 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.”
Trump met Monday with top network executives and anchors who agreed to off-the-record ground rules that have since prevented them from discussing the newsworthy meeting, even as explosive details leaked. The president-elect is said to have vented about how networks have covered him. He even personally criticized some executives present, such as CNN chief Jeff Zucker, sources said.
Presidents meet privately at times with both network anchors and executives, but rarely do these off-the-record talks occur together. The decision to allow Trump to speak only off-the-record Monday has drawn criticism because has not held a press conference since July and has already limited access expected of him.
Trump tweeted Tuesday morning that another meeting with the Times could take place in the future, but he added the paper had been covering him “inaccurately and with a nasty tone!”
The Times has closely been covering Trump’s foreign business dealings as he become president-elect, including a Monday story detailing how Trump urged a British politician he met with after winning the election to oppose wind farms that could affect the views on his Scottish golf course.
This article has been updated to reflect Trump’s meeting with the Times is back on.