The Hollywood Reporter’s Michael Wolff told senior White House counselor Kellyanne Conway Wednesday that the mainstream media does not cover President Donald Trump’s administration fairly.
The conversation, which took place during a forum at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., started when Wolff told Conway that the current White House has characterized the media “more negatively than any I can remember,” adding, though, that he feels Trump’s team talks to the press “more than any other administration” in the past.
Responding to that comment, Conway pointedly asked Wolff: “Do you actually think [Trump’s] covered fairly and objectively?”
“Do I think?” Wolff responded. “I think not at all. I think ‘Democracy Dies in Darkness,’ every time I look at this, I think, ‘Oh, my God.’”
The Hollywood Reporter journalist was referring to the Washington Post’s new slogan, which was unveiled in February. Many, like Wolff, connected the motto to the White House, believing it to be a dig at Trump’s unfavorable view of the news media — which his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, calls the “opposition party.”
Interestingly, Wolff was quick to suggest the Post’s slogan was a direct attack on the White House.
“I’m gonna tell you, when they say, ‘Democracy dies in darkness,’ you’re the darkness,” he told Conway.
Wolff’s comments drew immediate laughter from the audience and led him to take to Twitter to clarify that he was not suggesting Conway is, in fact, “darkness.” Rather, he was “deriding” the Post for — in his mind — suggesting the Trump administration is the “darkness.”
Context: I was deriding WaPo for Democracy Dies in Darkness, not @KellyannePolls for being the darkness. Attention please. #newseum— Michael Wolff (@Michael Wolff)1492015225.0
Of that charge, Conway had this to say: “I’m not the darkness ... It’s like I tell small children, ‘Just because someone says something doesn’t make it true,’ and it’s a great lesson for everyone.”
Michael Wolff tells Kellyanne Conway: "When they say democracy dies in darkness, you're the darkness." https://t.co/lScxpthUZt— NBC Politics (@NBC Politics)1492009609.0
Wolff said the Trump administration is in “uncharted territory” as far as the way in which the press covers the White House.
“Having said that,” he continued, “this administration is more media crazy than any I’ve ever watched. You talk to the media all the time, you want coverage all the time, you hurt when the coverage is bad.”
At another point during the sit-down, Conway had a few good things to say about reporters.
“There are some print journalists, particularly, who have taken the time to try to get to know this president and how he operates and who he is and some of the senior administration officials, and they’re doing much better, in my view, of covering the White House,” she told Wolff, according to Politico.
Conway even singled out New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, who recently interviewed the president from the Oval Office. The journalist’s name came up when Wolff suggested Trump disliked her — an assertion Conway said was “not true.”
“She's a very hardworking, honest journalist who happens to be a very good person,” Conway said.
The White House adviser also distanced herself from Bannon’s characterization of the media as the “opposition party,” saying she believes “it’s very important in a healthy democracy to have a free and a fair press.”
“Part of that democracy, too, though, is to have a presidency, no matter who the occupant is, shown respect and shown an openness to really cover all the items that he has put forth and his considerable accomplishment in the first 80-some days that have really gone uncovered,” Conway added.