CNN: Trump's 'Combative' Approach to Media 'Not A Very Good Strategy'

On Tuesday's Legal View, CNN's Mark Preston asserted that Donald Trump's latest attack on the media was "an absolute mistake because he doesn't want to necessarily do that." Preston soon added that "Trump deciding to take on the media at this point because he doesn't feel like they are treating him well is actually not a very good strategy — to the point the question was asked to him...do you have a thick enough skin to run for president? And he deflected on that question himself." [video below]

Dana Bash was more blunt in her take on the billionaire's criticism of the press's recent questioning of his fundraising for veterans causes: "If Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders or any other politician had a big rally and skipped a presidential debate and said, I'm going to do this because I'm going to raise money for veterans, you bet we would all be on top of them....It is the fourth estate; it is our job; and it is why...a free press was a fundamental thing when our Constitution was created. This is the reason why."

Host Ashleigh Banfield turned to Preston first and asked, "Is this a liberal-sided press that is attacking him on this vets issue and the money, or is it broad and wide — the people who have come in asking questions about where's the money; where did it go; how much was it? Is it true what you say every day on the campaign trail?" The CNN Politics executive editor underlined that "no question it is the latter; and certainly, not the former." He continued that "Donald Trump was in a position to capitalize on something and go very far with it. And, in fact, he has decided to take on the media, which is an absolute mistake because he doesn't want to necessarily do that."

Preston also outlined that "this was all about skipping a political event that he felt he was not going to be treated fairly at. So in order to deflect his decision not to go to that debate, he decided to hold this fundraiser." He dropped his "not a very good strategy" line moment later, and added, "So, as he said, this is going to be a very long summer if he is going to be combative with the press whenever he's questioned on anything that he doesn't feel like answering."

Tell the Truth 2016

Banfield then turned to Bash and asked, "The strategy of raising money for veterans — is that a winning strategy for him, given the fact that the way he's raised the money has caused so much consternation among other veterans?" The CNN correspondent replied, in part, that "this should be a very, very good news day for Donald Trump...instead, as we have been talking about, he blamed the press — the very group, as a body, that helped to make sure that the information and the details of all of this money, kind of, came to be made it happen."

Bash continued by answering the anchor's "liberal-sided press" question to Preston with her "you bet we would all be on top of them" claim about the media and her "it is our job; and it is why...a free press was a fundamental thing when our Constitution was created" line. To her credit, she acknowledged that "that it is very much tactical. The press, as a whole — we are not a popular bunch; and we are easy targets, just as Washington is an easy target. Any institution these days is an easy target — which is part of what has been fueling Donald Trump's rise."

The transcript of the relevant portion of the panel discussion from the May 31, 2016 edition of CNN's Legal View With Ashleigh Banfield:

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD: Mark, just so we're really clear: is this a liberal-sided press that is attacking him on this vets issue and the money, or is it broad and wide — the people who have come in asking questions about where's the money; where did it go; how much was it? Is it true what you say every day on the campaign trail?

[CNN Graphic: "Breaking News: Trump Attack Media At News Conference"]

MARK PRESTON: Ashleigh, no question it is the latter; and certainly, not the former. Now, let's unpack this, because this is a very complicated situation, where I think Donald Trump was in a position to capitalize on something and go very far with it. And, in fact, he has decided to take on the media, which is an absolute mistake because he doesn't want to necessarily do that.

A couple of things: one, he said, Ashleigh, that he didn't want any credit for it. However, I was at that fundraiser out in Iowa when he decided not to go to the Fox debate. Let's all remember: this was all about skipping a political event that he felt he was not going to be treated fairly at. So in order to deflect his decision not to go to that debate, he decided to hold this fundraiser. He made a lot to do about it. And, yes, we should give him credit for the money he's been able to raise. It is phenomenal what he has been able to do. However, it was all based on politics; and to say otherwise at this point would be disingenuous.

The second thing is, though — is that Donald Trump deciding to take on the media at this point because he doesn't feel like they are treating him well is actually not a very good strategy — to the point the question was asked to him, Ashleigh, do you have a thick enough skin to run for president? And he deflected on that question himself. So, as he said, this is going to be a very long summer if he is going to be combative with the press whenever he's questioned on anything that he doesn't feel like answering.

BANFIELD: I'm racking up that soundbite as we speak, Mark Preston, because I thought it was the most poignant, sort of, buttoning up of that press conference — when the wide shot came out and you saw the whole press corps, you saw Donald Trump out — after all of that very contentious back and forth, he was asked, is this what we can expect from you for the next several months? And I'm going to play that in a moment, but not before asking Dana Bash, what Mark just said is critical here: $5.6 million is not scratch—

DANA BASH: No—

BANFIELD: That is a lot of money—

BASH: That is—

BANFIELD: That is a hell of a lot of money for the veterans—

BASH: It is—

BANFIELD: And that's probably why there were veterans stationed right behind him — one of them taking to the mic to say, how dare you ask questions? Look what he's doing. It is true. That is awesome. But at the same time, I am curious about the strategy. Two questions: the strategy of raising money for veterans — is that a winning strategy for him, given the fact that the way he's raised the money has caused so much consternation among other veterans?

BASH: It should be; it should be. There's no losing — no matter how he got there, there is no losing in helping raise $5.6 million for veterans. This should be a very, very good news day for Donald Trump. You know, he should be basking in it; he should be touting it; and, instead, as we have been talking about, he blamed the press — the very group, as a body, that helped to make sure that the information and the details of all of this money, kind of, came to be made it happen. You know, he's not happy about being questioned. That's just the bottom line. And it's unfortunate, from the perspective of the Trump campaign —because, as we've been saying, $5.6 million is a very, very good thing. It is an apolitical, objective thing to say: it is a very good thing for the press, and just one thing — I mean for the — for the veterans.

One thing I will say in my answer to your question of Mark, Ashleigh, about whether or not it's a liberal thing to get questioned: if Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders or any other politician had a big rally and skipped a presidential debate and said, I'm going to do this because I'm going to raise money for veterans, you bet — you bet we would all be on top of them — particularly, our investigative reporters, like Drew Griffin at CNN, to figure out, what money did you—

BANFIELD: Right — who follow veterans affairs like no other — right, Dana?

BASH: Right! What money did you raise? Where is it going? Give us the details—

BANFIELD: And who was instrumental in breaking open the veterans affairs problems because of his dogged questions on the administration—

BASH: Right. It is not a liberal thing—

BANFIELD: This is why we have this estate—

BASH: It is the fourth estate; it is our job; and it is why the — a free press was a fundamental thing when our Constitution was created. This is the reason why.

BANFIELD: Yeah — very frustrating. And let's just repeat it again: as frustrating as that news conference was — especially for journalists — $5.6 million has been announced as raised. And it was one week ago that Donald Trump, four months after the fact, signed his own check; and then, held it up today, saying he wanted it all to be private. I just don't understand that comment. Last quick comment, Dana.

BASH: But — well, I just want to actually add one thing — because I agree with what Jim Acosta said — that we all have very thick skin. We have all been hit before. We have all been called dishonest in some way, shape, or form — not just by Donald Trump, but by other people. As you said, your Twitter feed is — is filled with it. It's not about us. It really isn't. It is about asking the questions, and making sure the answers are out there.

And then, politically, just raw politics here: I also agree with Jim that it is very much tactical. The press, as a whole — we are not a popular bunch; and we are easy targets, just as Washington is an easy target. Any institution these days is an easy target — which is part of what has been fueling Donald Trump's rise, because he is, kind of — he has been able to run so successfully as an outsider. So there's no question it was tactical, as it was, I think, genuinely emotional for him the way he responded—

BANFIELD: Yeah—

BASH: Even — again, even on a day where the story should be, at the end of the day, a good one for him and his campaign.

BANFIELD: Yeah. I mean, if — if choosing to not be a lap dog gets you the label of sleaze, sign me up. And I know that there's a bunch of us who would agree we can take that label any day, but we're not going to stop doing the job. Thank you so much.

NBDaily Campaigns & Elections 2016 Presidential Media Bias Debate Labeling Military Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats CNN Other CNN Video Mark Preston Ashleigh Banfield Dana Bash Donald Trump
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