President Donald Trump’s relentless attacks against the media gained some strategic context on Monday when CBS News’ Lesley Stahl shared a revealing conversation she had with Trump shortly before his first post-election interview on “60 Minutes” back in November 2016.
Stahl, who was speaking at the Deadline Club Awards in Manhattan, told the audience that she and a colleague had met with the then-President-elect at Trump Tower in order to prepare for the interview. At one point Trump started ranting against the press, and Stahl said she took the opportunity to ask him what the point of his attacks were.
“Why do you keep hammering at this?” she recounted to PBS’ Judy Woodruff.
According to Stahl, who was paraphrasing, Trump replied, “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.”
Looking stunned, Woodruff told Stahl, “We’re all absorbing what you just said.”
The resulting anecdote has since gone viral, with many pointing to the president’s reported explanation as confirmation of the political reasons motivating his many attacks on journalists and the media.