CNN Confronts NY Times Reporters After Trump's Ex Rips 'Misleading' Report

CNN's John Berman and Kate Bolduan questioned two New York Times journalists on Monday's At This Hour, after a former girlfriend of Donald Trump blasted their Sunday report on the billionaire's conduct towards women. Rowanne Brewer Lane, a former model who dated Trump in the 1990s, accused reporters Michael Barbaro and Megan Twohey of being "completely misleading" in their interview for the article. Bolduan contended that Lane's allegations against the correspondents were "concerning," and wondered, "What do you guys think happened?" [video below]

The two anchor first turned to Lane for her take on the frontpage story. Berman first noted that she "first met Donald Trump in 1990 at a party in Mar-A-Lago in Florida; and...Trump had barely met Rowanne Brewer Lane when he asked her to change out of her clothes." He asked, "What don't you like about this story?" Lane underlined that she was "very upset with the New York Times article, because it was completely misleading. They misled me. They took parts of what I said in — at least a two-hour interview that they did exclusively with me — and spun it and put a negative connotation on what I was saying."

Bolduan asked her guest to explain what she meant: "Did they get anything wrong...or do you just not like the way it was depicted?" Lane replied, "Well, they only took very small bits of my sentences...for instance, when I said that Donald said, 'Now, that's a stunning Trump girl,' my next sentence was, 'I was very flattered by that comment.' And that's not what it says in the article." She later underlined, "I honestly think that the way that the article was depicted — and as many times as they promised me they weren't going to do exactly what they did — they probably owe me an apology and probably him."

The CNN hosts then brought on Barbaro and Twohey and got their first reaction to Lane's allegations. Barbaro asserted that the "story speaks for itself. We thought it was a powerful anecdote. That's why we put it in the story. And there are some key contexts. Ms. Brewer Lane went on to date Donald Trump for several months, which is something we explained in the story. But the big picture here is that we're talking about a pattern of behavior — the way Donald Trump interacts privately with women."

Bermam pointed out that the two Times reporters "did use the word 'debase' — you know, in the piece...right up close to where that anecdote is," and wondered, "Is that a word that Rowanne used, or is that a word that the women you spoke to used?" Twohey never gave a direct answer, but played up that "we kind of changed the format a little bit. We wanted to...have this be an opportunity to hear these women in their own words as much as possible. And so, that's why you had large chunks of excerpts from our interviews."

Bolduan confronted her guests about Lane's allegations. The two journalists continued giving nebulous answer/explanations:

KATE BOLDUAN: Guys, she — I mean, she very clearly uses the words, it was 'misleading;' you took her words out of context; you didn't fully quote her — is what she suggests. You know, she said she called something flattering right after one of these anecdotes. Does that — as a journalist, that's concerning. What do you guys think happened?

MICHAEL BARBARO, REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: You know, when I interviewed Rowanne, she was very clearly — she used the word taken aback, at one point, about that example. I think it's pretty clear from the fact that she went on to date him that she had a big experience with him. It was an encompassing one. It started off with her being asked to put on a bathing suit and taken out to the pool. And by the end, she was traveling with him in Atlantic City in a helicopter. And we quoted her warmly and at length.

MEGAN TWOHEY, REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: And we — yeah. We pointed out that she went on to have a whirlwind romance with him.

Near the end of the segment, Bolduan also brought up that "Rowanne has asked for an apology," and asked the two for a response. Barbaro answered: "I think we really stand by our story. We believe we quoted her fairly and accurately; and that the story really speaks for itself."

The transcript of the relevant portions of the interview of Rowanne Brewer Lane, as well as the entire transcript of the segment with Michael Barbaro and Megan Twohey, which ran back to back on the May 16, 2016 edition of CNN's At This Hour With Berman and Bolduan:

JOHN BERMAN: Rowanne Brewer Lane is a former girlfriend of Donald Trump and a model. She joins us now live. Thanks so much for being with us — appreciate you joining us.

ROWANNE BREWER LANE, DONALD TRUMP'S FORMER COMPANION: I appreciate being heard. Thank you.

[CNN Graphic: "Trump's Ex-Girlfriend Says Paper Misquoted Her"]

BERMAN: So the story says that you first met Donald Trump in 1990 at a party in Mar-A-Lago in Florida; and the article goes on to say that Donald Trump had barely met Rowanne Brewer Lane when he asked her to change out of her clothes. That's the lead of the whole piece. What — what don't you like about this story?

LANE: I don't like anything about the story. I'm very upset with the New York Times article, because it was completely misleading. They misled me. They took parts of what I said in — at least a two-hour interview that they did exclusively with me — and spun it and put a negative connotation on what I was saying. I'm very displeased with the way that it came out.

They promised me time and time over again that the piece would not be a hit piece; that it was just merely each person's explanation of how they had interactions with Donald; what we — you know, what I thought of him — and I made it very clear many times that I had a very pleasant relationship with Donald, and that I never felt like I was being — you know, depicted as a piece of meat or anything like that. I was never offended by anything that he had said. He was never anything more than a gentleman — a very, very good guy. We had good times together. We had — you know, he was very genuine. He was very gentlemanly. And if you were to read that article, you would think that I felt otherwise; and I don't think it's fair to me, and I don't think it's fair to him honestly.

[CNN Graphic: "Trump's Ex: NY Times 'Misled' Me On Trump Report"]

KATE BOLDUAN: You say 'misleading,' and they spun your words in a negative way. Did they get anything wrong, or do you think — or do you just not like the way it was depicted?

LANE: Well, they only took very small bits of my sentences and put them in a way — like, for instance, when I said that Donald said, 'Now, that's a stunning Trump girl,' my next sentence was, 'I was very flattered by that comment.' And that's not what it says in the article.

BERMAN: What about the entire lead of the piece, where it says you had barely met when he asked you to change out of your clothes? The article quotes you. It actually says, 'He took me into a room, opened drawers, and asked me to put on a swimsuit.' That is a direct quote, is it not?

LANE: No, it is not. What I said was what I would say to anybody when they ask me how I met Donald Trump — would be at a pool party at Mar-A-Lago. You're going to get the story — what they say continue — that I went to a pool party there with my agency. And Donald and I struck up a conversation. It was a very good conversation. We were walking around, talking. He started showing me different parts of the Mar-A-Lago from the entrance, and we started discussing architecture. We walked further inside, and I would ask questions; he would answer. He would show me things. We were just having a really great conversation. And we got to a point of the mansion where he had asked me if I brought a swimsuit — because we were about to go back and join everybody outside. There were models swimming and that. I had a photo shoot that day and one the following day; so I didn't put a — bring a swimsuit to go swimming at the party. He asked me if I had one, and I said I did not — that I really hadn't intended on swimming. And he said, well, I have some; and that's when he opened the drawer and pulled some out and said — you know, do you want to put one on? I said, sure. And I went into the bathroom and changed into one and came out; and we joined everyone at the party. And when we went out there, he said, 'Wow! Now, that's a stunning Trump girl.' And I was flattered by that.

I didn't feel — and one thing I don't like, too, is — you know, some of the anchors are starting to use the language of the Times. They're starting to say, 'paraded — paraded her out there,' and — you know, and that's — that's ugly. That's negative to me. He didn't parade me anywhere.

(...)

BOLDUAN: This, of course, happened in the '90s. That's where your stories are coming from. When was the last time you spoke with Donald Trump or saw Donald Trump?

LANE: I spoke with him — the last time was probably 1991.

BERMAN: That far back ago. That's a long time.

LANE: Yeah, I haven't spoken to him in a long time. If I know Donald Trump, I'll probably hear from his camp at some point — you know, just to say thank you for the honesty.

I honestly think that the way that the article was depicted — and as many times as they promised me they weren't going to do exactly what they did — they probably owe me an apology and probably him.

BOLDUAN: And you haven't — and you haven't, since all of this happened, or even in the course of after you spoke with the New York Times, you haven't spoken with anyone from Donald Trump's campaign at all?

LANE: No, no — not yet.

(...)

BOLDUAN: So now, let's bring in the two New York Times reporters who did this investigation — wrote this special report — Michael Barbaro and Megan Twohey. They're joining us here on set. Guys, thank you so much for being here. You heard this entire interview. Michael, I saw you taking notes. Tell me — tell us — well, just give you an opportunity to respond to what you heard there from Rowanne.

[CNN Graphic: "NY Times Reporters Respond To Trump Criticism"]

MICHAEL BARBARO, REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, first of all, thanks for having us, and I want to first thank Rowanne Brewer Lane. She was exceedingly generous to the Times. I spoke to her on two different occasions. And Megan and I are grateful to the dozens of women who spoke to us. It took a lot of courage. A number of women were scared to go on the record. They were — they were intimidated. We're in the middle of a campaign. There's a lot of attention and scrutiny that goes on.

I think we should talk for just a minute about the scene at Mar-A-Lago that Rowanne referred to — and that's at the beginning of our story — because none of the facts are in dispute. She didn't have a bathing suit. She had just met Donald Trump. He asked her to put on a bathing suit — pulled out a drawer. She put it on. He expressed admiration for her appearance, and brought her back out to a predominantly — you know, male group out by the pool and said she was a stunning-looking Trump woman. I think that story speaks for itself. We thought it was a powerful anecdote. That's why we put it in the story. And there are some key contexts. Ms. Brewer Lane went on to date Donald Trump for several months, which is something we explained in the story.

But the big picture here is that we're talking about a pattern of behavior — the way Donald Trump interacts privately with women. The world knows how Donald Trump talks to a woman — or about a woman from a stage or a podium or Twitter or the Howard Stern show. Our goal was to pull back and say, how does he interact in the office with someone who he's dating or trying to date? And that was the purpose of our story; and that is why Megan and I spoke to dozens of women who walked us through those interactions. And frequently, that was a power dynamic at play here — which we think is worth understanding as well. This is a very wealthy man with a lot of connections and influence, and it's something that I think hovered over a lot of these interactions.

BERMAN: You did use the word 'debase' — you know, in the piece — again, right up close to where that anecdote is. Is that a word that Rowanne used, or is that a word that the women you spoke to used?

MEGAN TWOHEY, REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: So we heard a variety — I mean, the descriptions — Rowanne was one of many voices that we included in the story. And we really value the fact that — and as you'll see, like, I think one of the things that readers noted with our story was that we kind of changed the format a little bit. We wanted to be — have this be an opportunity to hear these women in their own words as much as possible. And so, that's why you had large chunks of excerpts from our interviews. And so, you know, we thought that that was a really powerful way to, kind of, capture the experiences of a variety of women inside and outside the workplace.

BOLDUAN: Guys, she — I mean, she very clearly uses the words, it was 'misleading;' you took her words out of context; you didn't fully quote her — is what she suggests. You know, she said she called something flattering right after one of these anecdotes. Does that — as a journalist, that's concerning. What do you guys think happened?

[CNN Graphic: "Trump's Ex Demands Apology From Paper Over Report"]

BARBARO: You know, when I interviewed Rowanne, she was very clearly — she used the word taken aback, at one point, about that example. I think it's pretty clear from the fact that she went on to date him that she had a big experience with him. It was an encompassing one. It started off with her being asked to put on a bathing suit and taken out to the pool. And by the end, she was traveling with him in Atlantic City in a helicopter. And we quoted her warmly and at length.

TWOHEY: And we — yeah. We pointed out that she went on to have a whirlwind romance with him.

BERMAN: You talked to a lot of people here, right? Significant reporting here — did you find any allegations of harassment or illegal behavior by Donald Trump?

[CNN Graphic: "NY Times Defends Trump Piece Amid Backlash"]

TWOHEY: Right. Well, so, you know, once again, a variety of voices painting a pretty complicated picture of this man — and one of the reasons we went into this story was because — I think, because of the controversial comments he's me about women in public. We wanted to go back and say, okay — you know, people now are starting to make, kind of, blanket assumptions about this man based on comments he's made. Let's go behind the scenes, and let's go back decades — back to military school, when he was voted 'ladies man' for bringing a variety—

BERMAN: There's that picture that says 'ladies man'—  

TWOHEY: Right; exactly. So I think that — you know, so — and once again, there are people in the story who talked about having very good experiences with him in the workplace, and that's — that's in the story. You know, there is a portion of the story — a section of the story — that does say that — you know, as his first marriage with Ivana was falling apart, that there were some serious allegations against him. You know, Ivana herself, in a deposition, as the — you know, as they were getting divorced, made a claim that he — that he had raped her. And she's backed off of that claim, but it was — it was there, and she's acknowledged that, and she said now that— you know that — you know, that that story is not true.

There was another allegation that was made in, sort of, a dispute — a legal dispute — where a woman who had done business with him in the beauty pageant world made accusations there had been unwanted advances — sexual advances on her, including groping. So there are — you know, and those were allegations that were made at the time; and we included those in the story, as we did — you know, the voices of people who had great experiences with him in the workplace.

BOLDUAN: So, guys, as John points out, this is six weeks. You guys said more than 50 interviews. You write this — you have this special report. And at one point, this one quote kept coming back to me. You describe it: 'What emerges from the interviews is a complex; and, at times, contradictory portrait of Donald Trump.' So, after all of this, what is your verdict?

BARBARO: I mean, he is a paradoxical figure. And I'll give you the example of a woman named Barbara Res, who worked for him. She was in charge of the construction of Trump Tower—

BERMAN: Which was unusual, right?

BARBARO: It was an extraordinary—

BERMAN: To be involved in construction — you know, for a woman at that time — very unusual—

TWOHEY: A daring move—

BARBARO: Yes. It was an extraordinary opportunity for a woman in that time in a very male industry to be put in that position. But Barbara Res inhabits all the contradictions of Donald Trump — someone whose career was nurtured by him; yet observed him making comments about her own weight, telling her, 'You like your candy.' And she said that was a reference to her own heaviness. She had gained a lot of weight. That did not make her comfortable. And she watched him pull back a woman from going into a meeting where she was going to be taking lunch orders and she described that as him not thinking that woman was beautiful enough; and he wanted to put somebody else in that position to go into that room, so that everybody in that room would think Donald Trump, in her words, 'employed beautiful women.' And so, what a complicated woman and an experience this is. There's no single dimension to Donald Trump and women, and I think our story makes that clear, and I think it makes it clear through the voices of the people we interviewed.

[CNN Graphic: "NY Times Reporters Respond To Trump Criticism"]

BERMAN: What's your response to the reaction from Donald Trump so far?

TWOHEY: Well, you know, we — you know, we spoke to Donald Trump for an hour, and included his voice in our story, and really value the time that we got to spend with him on the phone. And we believe that — you know, at every opportunity in the story, we gave him a chance to, sort of, give his side of the story. And we'd be happy to continue talking to him about this. If he wants to get back on the phone with us and chat more about his experiences with women, we'd — we'd welcome that.

BOLDUAN: I believe Rowanne has asked for an apology. I mean, what do you say?

BARBARO: I think we really stand by our story. We believe we quoted her fairly and accurately; and that the story really speaks for itself.

BERMAN: Michael Barbaro, Megan Twohey, thanks for coming in.

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