Beck Dorey-Stein, who served as a White House stenographer under both Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump, has written an editorial for the New York Times in which she describes Trump’s strange aversion to having people write down exactly what he says.
To start, she explains why most presidents of both parties have traditionally welcomed stenographers as a way to protect them from being inaccurately quoted.
“We weren’t powerful, but we were respected; George W. Bush used to call out, ‘I love the stenos!’ whenever he saw my boss, Peggy, or her colleagues,” she writes. “Our job, after all, was to provide a first line of defense against the press by being present whenever a reporter was in the same room as the president.”
However, she says all that changed when Trump entered the White House.
In particular, she notes that the Trump White House excluded stenographers entirely from Trump’s infamous 2017 interview with Lester Holt in which the president admitted that the Russia investigation was on his mind when he decided to fire former FBI Director James Comey.
She also says that former Trump aide Hope Hicks broke off an interview the president was conducting with former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly to move the two men for a private off-the-record discussion in the Oval Office — again with no stenographers present.
“Mr. Trump likes to call anyone who disagrees with him ‘fake news,'” she concludes. “But if he’s really the victim of so much inaccurate reporting, why is he so averse to having the facts recorded and transcribed? It’s clear that White House stenographers do not serve his administration, but rather his adversary: the truth.”