How Trump's interview with the NYT came about

Posted February 1, 2019 1:17 a.m. EST

— A version of this article first appeared in the "Reliable Sources" newsletter. You can sign up for free right here.

This is Oliver Darcy, writing from a frigid New York City. Brian Stelter is off, having headed south for a warmer climate. Now, let's get to the news...

President Donald Trump on Thursday afternoon sat down with NYT's Peter Baker, Maggie Haberman, and publisher A.G. Sulzberger for a wide-ranging interview touching on a number of topics. NYT's story posted Thursday night... Some highlights...

-- On border wall negotiations: Trump called negotiations with Congress a "waste of time." Seemingly hinting at a future declaration of a national emergency, Trump said, "I've set the table. I've set the stage for doing what I'm going to do."

-- On the Russia probe: Trump said Rod Rosenstein "told the attorneys that I'm not a subject, I'm not a target" of the investigation.

-- On Roger Stone: Trump said he "never" spoke with Stone about WikiLeaks, and "never" directed anyone to make contact with Stone about WikiLeaks.

-- On the emerging Democratic field: "I would say the best opening so far would be Kamala Harris." Trump said some of the others "were very flat."

There's a lot more in the NYT story, so I'd encourage you to read it in full for yourself...

How the interview came about

Trump initially reached out to Sulzberger, according to NYT's Thursday story, inviting him for an off-the-record dinner. But Sulzberger said no. Instead, Sulzberger said he would prefer an on-the-record interview with a couple of Times reporters. Trump agreed.

>> Haberman on CNN after the interview posted online: Trump was "in a very personable and good mood..."

Friday's edition of "The Daily"

Get ready for more of NYT's Oval Office interview Friday on "The Daily." A NYT spokesperson told me it will feature a conversation between Sulzberger and Trump on the "role of a free press." It goes online at 6 a.m. ET...

Trump claims intel chiefs' televised testimony was "misquoted"

Before NYT's interview dropped, the focus was on how Trump is again trying to create his own reality -- this time by claiming that his intel chiefs told him they were "misquoted and totally taken out of context" when media outlets reported that they had contradicted him on a host of national security matters during public testimony Wednesday. "They said it was fake news," Trump claimed. Trump later repeated the claim on Twitter, and in his NYT interview.

It's, of course, not true that the intel chiefs were misquoted during their testimony. Television news programs spent much of Wednesday airing VIDEO of what they said. Anyone who wants to watch the testimony can go ahead and do so. But Trump's attempt to deceive underscored yet again how, when he gets in a bind, he misleads and works to sow confusion...

In other words, Trump tells America: Do not believe your eyes and ears

Erin Burnett summed things up nicely with the opening line in her Thursday program: "The tapes don't lie, but the president?"

The chyron on Anderson Cooper's "Keeping Them Honest" segment was surreal, saying, "WE'LL LEAVE THE GASLIGHT ON FOR YOU, PART 17." Cooper said, "We begin tonight...with the president once again telling you not to trust your eyes and ears, not to believe what you see and hear, but to believe only him."


-- Will Sommer's latest looks at how some far-right media personalities have peddled a conspiracy theory that suggests Ruth Bader Ginsberg is hiding or dead... (Daily Beast)

-- Attendees at the Television Critics Association panel got to see how Russell Crowe was transformed into Roger Ailes for Showtime's upcoming series... (THR)

-- Media Matters' Parker Malloy explains "how a myth about journalists telling miners to 'learn to code' helped people justify harassment against journalists last week... (Media Matters)

-- News Media Alliance CEO David Chavern writes about that "tech giants are the world's best distribution platforms and could be an answer for journalism instead of a grave threat..." (NYT)

-- Jerome Corsi's lawyer Larry Klayman threatens to sue Gateway Pundit contributor Cassandra Fairbanks after she calls Corsi "deranged..." (Mediaite)

Facebook & Twitter remove thousands of accounts tied to Russia, Venezuela and Iran

Facebook and Twitter announced on Thursday that they had removed thousands of fake accounts linked to foreign influence campaigns from their platforms. Facebook said the accounts it removed engaged "coordinated inauthentic behavior on Facebook and Instagram" that was "directed from Iran." Twitter said the accounts it removed were suspected of being connected to Iran Venezuela, and Russia. Donie O' Sullivan has the full story here...

>> Key point from Donie: "For anyone hoping that foreign operations are no longer using social media to try to meddle in and influence debate and policy in the US and all over the world, Thursday should be a wakeup call..."

CBS, Viacom, and Discovery?

The CBS board met on Thursday in Los Angeles... the company still has an interim CEO and an uncertain M&A path forward...

Ahead of the meeting, CNBC's Alex Sherman reported that the board had determined CBS needs to grow larger, but that a merger with Viacom "is not enough" for Shari Redstone. "If the CBS-Viacom deal gets done, Redstone's National Amusements would like to move quickly with a second deal, the people said. Discovery Communications is interested in selling to CBS or a combined CBS-Viacom," Sherman wrote, citing two sources. Sherman added that Redstone is open to the idea, but "would also consider buying other companies, including Sony Pictures and MGM..."

"Discovery is not for sale"

The CNBC report received pushback from Discovery, with chief corporate operations officer David Leavy saying in a statement that it was "inaccurate." Leavy added, "Discovery is not for sale. We remain extremely confident in our growth strategy in the U.S. and globally as we continue to build the leading portfolio of superfan brands in every market around the world."


By Katie Pellico:

-- Taylor Lorenz charts the race to monetize the world-record Instagram egg... (Atlantic)

-- David Leonhardt names "six forms of media bias..." (NYT)

-- Read more of Thursday's "Reliable Sources" newsletter... And subscribe here to receive future editions in your inbox...

-- Wired is extending to the Middle East. The dual-language website will launch this spring, "following in the footsteps of Vogue Arabia..." (Vogue)