Irony: Brian Williams Worries About Claims Trump Is Discrediting Journalism

Journalists are freaking out over an alleged admission by Donald Trump that he attacks the press simply to “discredit” reporters and so that “no one will believe you.” CBS This Morning, CNN, ABC’s The View and MSNBC have all fretted over the quote. 

Appearing at an event in New York on Monday, journalist Lesley Stahl recounted an alleged off-camera comment by Trump from December of 2016. Trump told her: “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.” 

 

 

Now, it’s unclear why Stahl decided to not bring the remark up at the time or why it’s coming up 17 months later. However, it’s amusing that disgraced ex-Nightly News anchor Brian Williams played the clip on Tuesday night and worried about it’s impact. Naturally, he fretted over whether it could intimidate the Robert Mueller investigation: 

Mueller, while not a monastic environment totally, something close —  they all keep their head down and do their work. Are they likely to see, are they likely to react to a remark like that? 

Considering that Williams is the man who falsely claimed he was shot down over Iraq in 2003 and told tales about seeing dead bodies during Hurricane Katrina, maybe he shouldn’t be so concerned about others trying to discredit the press. Williams has done a good job of that himself. 

CBS This Morning's Norah O'Donnell on Wednesday blandly recounted Stahl’s new claims and played the video: 

60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl said President Trump told her that he attacks the press to erode the public’s trust in journalists. Stahl spoke at an awards ceremony, Monday, about her conversation with then-President-Elect Trump right after the 2016 election. She said he made the comments during an off-camera exchange. 

Hill reporter Joe Concha wondered about the timing of Stahl’s revelation: 

 

On The View, co-host Meghan McCain voiced skepticism: 

I like Lesley Stahl. She has a 45 year career on 60 Minutes. She actually came to my family's ranch in Sedona and did a whole interview with my dad. And there were parts off the record, and we hung out with her. Off the record is off the record.... I would assume they were maybe talking on background. I have issues with the way Trump treats the media. But there is also on this end, like, the breakdown of trust and the traditions of journalism are maybe going out the window. I don't know if this is on or off the record, but this sounds off the record. 


Partial transcripts are below. 

CBS This Morning
5/23/18
8:06

NORAH O’DONNELL: 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl said President Trump told her that he attacks the press to erode the public’s trust in journalists. Stahl spoke at an awards ceremony, Monday, about her conversation with then-President-Elect Trump right after the 2016 election. She said he made the comments during an off-camera exchange. 

LESLEY STAHL: I said, you know, “That is getting tired. Why are you doing this? You're doing this over and over. It's boring. It's time to end that. You've won the nomination. And why do you keep hammering at this?” And he said, “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.” He said that. 

O’DONNELL: The White House did not respond for our request for a comment. 


11th Hour
5/22/18
11:15

BRIAN WILLIAMS: I want to play a piece of an interview with Lesley Stahl. This is Lesley Stahl talking about when she first went over to interview Donald Trump in Trump Tower. This is December 2016, after he won the election, something he told her then. We'll discuss it on the other side. 

[Clip] 

STAHL: Lesley Stahl, as said to Judy Woodruff, two giants of the television news business. Jill, the question to you becomes, you're always appropriately talking about the focus of the feds. How Mueller, while not a monastic environment totally, something close, they all keep their head down and do their work. Are they likely to see, are they likely to react to a remark like that? 

 


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