Donald Trump has sat down for a rare interview with The New York Times, discussing everything from the media’s treatment of him to allegations he had business interests in Russia.
The President has had a long ongoing battle with the paper, which he’s long described as “failing”, “fake news”, and an “enemy of the people”, based largely on its unfavourable coverage of him.
The Failing New York Times wrote a story that made it seem like the White House Councel had TURNED on the President, when in fact it is just the opposite – & the two Fake reporters knew this. This is why the Fake News Media has become the Enemy of the People. So bad for America!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 19, 2018
The Failing New York Times purposely wrote a false story stating that I am unhappy with my legal team on the Russia case and am going to add another lawyer to help out. Wrong. I am VERY happy with my lawyers, John Dowd, Ty Cobb and Jay Sekulow. They are doing a great job and…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 11, 2018
But in this latest interview, Mr Trump didn’t appear to think the newspaper was failing at all. He implored Times journalists Maggie Haberman and Peter Baker — and the newspaper’s publisher, A.G. Sulzberger — to write more favourably of him.
“I came up from Jamaica, Queens, Jamaica Estates, and I became president of the United States,” he said. “I’m sort of entitled to a great story from my — just one — from my newspaper.”
Speaking of his millions of social media followers, Mr Trump said networks like Twitter “give you at least a voice”, before adding: “That’s not — you know, The New York Times is The New York Times.”
He also asked the journalists for their contact information, requesting to call them if he feels there are reporting inaccuracies that need to be addressed.
Based on his comments, Mr Trump appeared to be gunning for the reporters’ approval. He commended Baker’s latest book, Obama: The Call Of History, noting that while Barack Obama is “not (his) favourite person” it was a “very good book”.
At one point, an aide tried to bring an end to the interview, telling Mr Trump he had some important phone calls to make.
Mr Trump responded: “I’ll be in in a little while. What’s more important than The New York Times? Okay, nothing, nothing.”
Later, when White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders tried to again bring the interview to a close, Mr Trump said he’ll do “a hundred” more interviews with the newspaper if it promises to treat him “fairly”.
At one point, they even all joked about exchanging phone numbers.
The interview was a contrast to Mr Trump’s usual attacks on The New York Times. Just last month, he said it was “really disgusting” that the newspaper allowed “dishonest” writers to “totally fabricate stories”.
Really disgusting that the failing New York Times allows dishonest writers to totally fabricate stories.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 19, 2016
When asked about the role of the free press, Mr Trump said it should “describe accurately what’s going on in anywhere it’s covering whether it’s a nation or a state or a game or whatever”.
He urged the reporters to call him before publishing stories, saying: “How many calls do I get — hundreds of calls a day so in all fairness it’s tough. But if you guys call, I would love to be able to call you back. I think if I were in your position and… I called me, and I’m in your position, and I don’t return your phone call or if I’m at least not treated fairly by the people representing me, I think that’s a very bad thing.
“And I think that’s my fault, not your fault.”