Donald Trump scraps, reschedules Times interview in media quarrel

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump attends a campaign event in Springfield, Ohio, US, on Oct 27 2016.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump attends a campaign event in Springfield, Ohio, US, on Oct 27 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President-elect Donald Trump abruptly cancelled and then rescheduled an interview with The New York Times on Tuesday (Nov 22), after complaining about the "nasty tone" of its coverage.

In a pair of early morning tweets, Trump said he had called off the interview after "the terms and conditions of the meeting were changed at the last minute," an account the newspaper disputed.

But a Trump spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, later texted pool reporters: "The meeting is taking place as planned." Eileen Murphy, the Times' vice president for communications, confirmed the meeting was back on.

"He will meet with our publisher off-the-record and that session will be followed by an on-the-record meeting with our journalists and editorial columnists."

Earlier, Murphy said the newspaper learned of the cancellation from reading Trump's tweet, insisting it was the president-elect's camp not the Times that had tried to change the ground rules.

 

"They tried to yesterday - asking for only a private meeting and no on-the-record segment, which we refused to agree to."

"In the end, we concluded with them that we would go back to the original plan of a small off-the-record session and a larger on-the-record session with reporters and columnists."

During the presidential campaign, the New York billionaire often railed at the Times' coverage as biased against him.

His latest Twitter comments showed his bitterness toward his influential hometown newspaper remains undiminished since his surprise Nov 8 victory.

"Perhaps a new meeting will be set up with the @nytimes In the meantime they continue to cover me inaccurately and with a nasty tone!" Trump wrote.

The Times, which editorially endorsed Democrat Hillary Clinton for president, has dug into a host of Trump controversies since he launched his candidacy for the world's most powerful office.

 

These have included allegations by women that he had harassed or sexually assaulted them, his past failures as a real estate developer and his likely use of a US$916 million (S$1,300 million) loss to avoid paying US income taxes for years.

On Monday, Trump met at his Trump Tower headquarters in Manhattan with television network executives and on-air personalities for an off-the-record discussion.

The New Yorker, citing attendees, described the session as an "astonishing aria of invective and resentment at the media."

It quoted a participant as saying his behaviour was "totally inappropriate" and "outrageous."