Leslie Stahl revealed that President Donald Trump told her that his attacks were intended to discredit the media — and “The View” host Meghan McCain had a different takeaway than her colleagues.
The “60 Minutes” reporter said this week that Trump had told her during an informal meeting in July 2016 that he was intentionally trying to undermine the free press by bashing them as “fake news,” and most of the panelists on “The View” were disturbed.
“He just goes around admitting his ‘fake news’ is ‘fake news,’ basically,” said co-host Joy Behar. “He says it outright.”
But McCain said she was troubled that Stahl had revealed details of the conversation from nearly two years ago, during the presidential campaign.
“My antennas went up on this, and I like Leslie Stahl, she has a 45-year career on ’60 Minutes’ — she came to my family’s ranch in Sedona and did a whole interview, and there were parts off the record, and we hung out with her and her crew afterwards,” McCain said. “Off the record is off the record. I don’t know what she is talking about, maybe it was on the record when she was with, quote, her boss and him, but I would assume they were maybe talking on background.”
She said reporters were as much to blame as Trump for a lack of public trust in the media, because they sometimes revealed information their sources believed would be kept confidential.
“I have issues with the way Trump treats the media, as everyone’s well aware, but there is also on this end, like, the breakdown of trust and the traditions of journalism are maybe going out the window,” McCain said.
However, McCain admitted she didn’t know whether Trump expected the conversation to remain private or not, but she still faulted Stahl for discussing it.
“I don’t know if this is on or off the record, but this sounds off the record,” McCain said.
Behar seemed to suggest McCain was overlooking the forest on account of the trees.
“Whether it’s on or off, he said it — and now everybody knows he is admitting it,” Behar said.
Co-host Sara Haines agreed the president’s comments were newsworthy enough to publicize.
“You speak to the tradition of journalism, and I think with her vast career, when you hear something so shocking that it getting out is less shocking than the words coming out of his lips,” Haines said. “That’s the part that’s scary.”
McCain still wasn’t sure, saying that journalists undermined public trust by sometimes revealing too much information.
“For me, I can name, like — we talk about all the journalists I still trust, still would have off-the-record conversations and believe they would keep it off the record,” McCain said. “Also conversations on background, which means you’re just giving them information on background, and this breakdown of the traditions of journalism between the principle and journalists scares me.”
Behar told her she was missing the point.
“We’re in an emergency situation in this country right now,” Behar said. “People need to understand that, and I’m glad she spilled the beans on him.”