In an appearance Monday night at the annual Deadline Club awards dinner in New York City, “60 Minutes” correspondent Lesley Stahl said that President Donald Trump told her off camera in July 2016 that he attacks the media as part of a conscious strategy to protect himself from damaging coverage.
Stahl stated that the conversation took place in Trump’s office at Trump Tower before she spoke to him for “60 Minutes” just before the Republican convention. According to Stahl, there were three people present: herself, her boss, and Trump.
Trump, she said, attacked the media during the meeting, and she asked him why he was continuing to do so even after he’d won the Republican nomination. Trump responded: “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.”
Stahl made the remarks during a conversation with fellow journalist Judy Woodruff:
WOODRUFF: How do you deal – I mean, you had the first interview with Donald Trump after the election, big scoop, everybody wanted this interview.
STAHL: I’m happy I got it.
WOODRUFF: I mean, how did you deal with it?
STAHL: Before the interview I met with him in Trump Tower. And 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 – 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, 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. So put that in your head for a minute.
The Stahl and Woodruff conversation at the Deadline Club can be watched in full here. The section about Trump begins at about 21:00.
Stahl did not immediately respond to a request for further comment. Stahl’s remarks were first reported by The Intercept’s National Security Editor Vanessa Gezari on Twitter:
Lesley Stahl asked Trump in semi-private meeting why he’s always attacking the press. His answer: “I want to demean you and discredit you so that when you do negative stories about me, no one will believe you.” @deadlineclub #deadlineawards
— vanessa gezari (@vanessagezari) May 22, 2018
Correction: May 25, 2018
An earlier version of this story stated that Stahl was describing a conversation with Trump that occurred prior to her “60 Minutes” interview with him in November 2016 following the presidential election. It has been corrected to reflect that, according to CBS News, Stahl meant that the conversation happened in July 2016, before a previous “60 Minutes” interview with Trump.