tv David Farenthold Discusses Coverage of the Donald J. Trump Foundation CSPAN March 2, 2017 7:01pm-8:13pm EST
the a.c.a. has tremendous amount of consequences on the american public. unfortunately, they haven't been positive. some have, but the majority has not. that's why a number of people today, one third of this nation, of the county, 1,022 only have one health care provider. i listened to our president just this week right there in the well. i know you haven't commented about that or quoted anything he said there but i listen to other people who commented about that. people on different sides of the aisle who i know did not vote for him. jones, probably philosophical, i know the man well, philosophically he and i disagree he said that night listening to president trump that he became america's president. so i'd just say to my friend, mr. speaker, across the aisle, i think four months, that's long enough to decide who won the race. and we don't have to come back to this.
if we really want this country to come together, i don't think those type of questioning on this floor is productive. i think it's time to come together as one nation and >> we leave this now and take you live to the old naval hospital. we hear from "washington post" reporter david fahrenthold, interviewed by talk show host bill press. all right. there he is. the hill center, everyone. we are thrilled to see such a full audience this evening for a conversation between bill press, award-winning journalist, and "washington post" reporter david fahrenthold. a few housekeeping things.
please sounds your cell phones. -- silence your cell phones. and if you enjoy this event, and next conversation with bill press will be march 29. bill, please come see us again. without further review, we have bill press and david fahrenthold. bill: ok. [applause] bill: hi, everybody so good to see you tonight. you know how it works. david and i will be in conversation for half an hour and then we will set it up for all of you for a rare opportunity to question a reporter rather than having the reporter question you. so i get asked the question often in my work as a journalist. is there anything good we can say that has come out of the first five weeks of the trump administration? [laughter] bill: in my answer is yes, believe it or not, there is something good. i believe we can thank donald trump for the best investigative
journalism that we have seen since watergate. [applause] since carl bernstein and bob woodward, both of whom are friends of ours. and it is mainly "the new york times" and our own "washington post," and of course, at "the washington post," nobody is a stronger or better than our friend tonight and our guest, david fahrenthold when you think of the big stories you remember about the trump campaign or transition, the fact that there is a big fundraiser for veterans that is allegedly ,aised $6 million but didn't you think about a foundation that didn't even have the certification to operate in new york state and was shot down by the ag. if you think about all the stories of the huge sums that this philanthropist had given to
charities throughout his career, if you think about the story about, actually, donald trump spent a lot of foundation money on himself, buying big paintings of himself that he would hang in his own property, and if you ofnk about a certain tape bragging about certain activities with regards to women, all of those scoops were the work of david fahrenthold. [applause] bill: and as ronald reagan would say, you ain't seen nothing yet. so david, congratulations. good to have you usually we celebrate pulitzer prize winners after they get the award. i think tonight we are celebrating in advance of well-deserved pulitzer for david fahrenthold, and his colleagues at "the post," which i'm sure
you would be the first to admit. let's go back -- i want to ask a question that sean spicer would ask if he were here. are you just out to get donald trump? is that your motivation? david: well, no. i started covering trump's charitable giving sort of by accident. i was in iowa following him around at this big rally in he stoppedowa, and the rally and said, local veterans groups, come on stage and i will give you a big check. it said "donald trump foundation" on the top and "make america great again" on the bottom. they leave, they say what a great guy he is, and he goes back to his rally. it raises a couple of questions in my mind, not can i very donald trump. it is, is that illegal? and that was money that had come out of the $6 million he said he had raised for veterans.
the question was where is the rest of the money. t, set out to prove trump righ that he really had raised the money for veterans. that was the impetus going in, let's see how he did those things he said he did. it spiraled from there. in any case we were always trying to find evidence that he was telling the truth. bill: you were trying to find evidence he was telling the truth. when you look into this one fundraiser of how close to the $6 billion did he come and how much did he actually pump in. david: well, i set out thinking this would be a 2- or 3-day story, call the trump campaign, and there is no way anyone would screw over veterans in the middle of a presidential primary. it didn't happen like that. it didn't happen in a day, didn't happen in week, didn't have been in a month.
four months later after the initial promise he was going to give the money to veterans, at the end of may i was trying to figure out one piece of it, trump raising $5 million from veterans -- for veterans from other people and $1 million from his own pocket. corey lewandowski, now a washington lobbyist, then trump 's campaign manager, called me and said "mr. trump has given away to millions of dollars to veterans, but i cannot tell you who got it or when or what amount, but you should know for sure that he give the money away." i didn't want to just take him at his word, obviously. this is a big promise. you want evidence you have fallen through -- followed through. can i find somebody that says "yeah, i got $50,000 from donald hundred thousand dollars. i used twitter -- twitter queries of 2 big veterans
organizations. so he would see it when he searches his own name because we know he searches his own name, and other veterans groups would pick it up and spread it around. we learned that trump had not given a million dollars away. told meey lewandowski that, it was a lie. my day searching for a publicly and embarrassed him and then he gave the million dollars away that night in well for -- in one fell swoop to a veterans group he knew. last time i talk to him, actually, he called me -- [laughter] david: called me at work to say he had done it. i said, well, why did it take you for months to get the million dollars away? he said, "i had to vet the group i had given to." the marine corps law enforcement foundation, a real charity. i happen to know that they had given him a lifetime achievement award a year earlier of the wall the four-story of it i said, you
had a big gala with these people and you had to vet them after that? he said, "oh, yeah, that's true." [laughter] david: and i asked if he would have given the money away if i not found that could he said " you are really nasty guy." bill: david fahrenthold, nasty guy, sad! [laughter] only so that was your conversation? david: i talked to him when he endorsed romney. theas a funny event because first time you begin him you are like, oh, well, donald trump, but five minutes later he is back again and he is like, "did you know we got five stars," and then you are like, fine, celebrity, i am done. i talked to him by phone a couple times for other stories,
not about charity, early on in the campaign. bill: so how did they go from this veterans event that he held in view of going to the debate he didn't want to go to because they were all going to beat up on him, and your story about missing the $1 million, to the whole foundation and a lot of -- whole foundation enchilada? david: well, there was still other money people had given him that he had not distributed. he held his press conference, people might remember, at trump tower, and he was really angry and he insulted jim acosta of cnn and other folks, and that is when he described giving the rest of it away. he gave the rest of it away so hastily that one of the groups he gave money to, if you google it one of the top three results is they were a scam. they were called the foundation of a veteran americans, something generic. he give the money away and he was so angry to do it went all he had done was fulfill a
promise he had made himself on national tv. around the time i saw marty onon, our executive editor, the elevator going down to leave, and he said, "you should really look beyond this veterans thing. you should look at the trump foundation, this charity he has run a long time, and the charities over the years." if he is going to try to screw over veterans in a presidential campaign, what is he doing when no one is looking? i was the genesis of months and lots of coverage after that. bill: how many organizations did you try to track down? david: 450. trump over the years had promised a number of times to give money out of his own pocket to charity. trump, when he was a celebrity, had this weird dichotomy -- on one hand he told people he was over she could not use all money. that was in "the art of the deal" in 1987, "i'm so rich i
can't use all the money." at the same time he is always asking for money, for steaks or tv show, whatever. he always is he would give the money to charity. trump steaks, trump university, he rented to moammar gadhafi one time. "i'm giving it all to charity." did he actually do that? that is what the call to 450 charities were for. i called in to see if they ever got a personal check. bill: and? and 2015, ien 2009 could find one gift out of his own pocket, and that was for less than $10,000. i'm not even sure that israel. that may be bad bookkeeping. according to this one group, less than $10,000 from trump. bill: how much total money did they bring in and dispersed of these organizations? david: you mean thedavid: trump foundation?
the trump foundation is an interesting case. almost anybody else who is rich and has a foundation with her name on it, it is there money. you give it away as time goes on. trump's was not like that. he stopped giving money to his own foundation. -- 2008 heand gave no money to his own foundation. he gave it away to people who thought they were giving donald trump's money. he didn't even give money to his own foundation during that time. bill: one of the first rules of politics is otm. if you are running for office, other people's money, not your own. but usually a foundation, you are expected to spend your own money and put it in and you get money from other people but you get some of your own in. david: one interesting thing about this is most people who are very wealthy you would think would spend money to save time and hassle. trump would be the other way around it -- he would go to a huge amount of hassle to spend
some of the else's money and not his own. one thing we found is there was a group in palm beach called the palm beach police foundation and a paid trump thousands of dollars every year to rent out -lago, his club. he wants to give them money but he doesn't want to give his own money so he calls a friend of his who is deceased and he asks the widow, i am gathering money for the palm beach police foundation, would you like to donate, to add to the effort from your husband's foundation? she says sure could he says, don't send it straight to the palm beach police foundation, give it to me. less than $2000, which he takes and gives to the palm beach police foundation without adding anything from his own. just makes their money into his money. then he gets a giant crystal la in his, a whole ga honor, for his generosity. all other people's money. that was the kind of thing he seemoing to make ihim
generous rather than being generous. bill: is this what he calls the art of the deal? david: yes, if you can swing it. but it is a lot of work. bill: that is your next question for donald trump. ok, so the videotape, how did you discover that? well, i didn't really explain that. bill: billy bush was your story . david: it is not something we knew existed before it showed up. there were rumors of tips from "the apprentice," this low-light reel of bad behavior from "the apprentice." we search for in search for it. this tape, we just had it. on a friday, in the beginning you just see the bus, trump and billy bush, but you don't see their faces, and after about two
minutes of them talking, they get off and they meet this soap opera actors who has come to be there to a guy, and the next two minutes is very boring tour of the backlot -- here's the appearing--trump was on a cameo on "days of our lives" that david we can see it and you can hear the audio -- all the bad stuff happens when you can't see their mouths moving, you just hear them. video -- wee this need to subtitle it, we need to cut it down to only the interesting parts, and talk to our lawyers before we can publish it. that will take us until 3:30. that is my timeline. i want my story ready in four and a half hours. my job was to call -- it was not that hard because it was just a transcript of what he said. i had to call billy bush, had to call nbc, because "access hollywood" is an nbc show. were they going to sue us for
broadcasting something they might have a claim to? were they going to say it was a hoax, that the voices of trump and billy bush were dubbed in? and call trump, if he would say it was a hoax. and to call the soap opera actress and nancy o'dell, billy bush's cohost from "access hollywood," with the two of them were talking about in the beginning. trump said he took a woman furniture shopping, nancy o'dell. nancy o'dell and the woman from the soap opera never got back to me. fascinating contest between washington publicist and hollywood publicist. you can not get a senator on the phone right away but you can get a senator's spokesman on the phone right away. in hollywood, it is agree with loss of faith if the publicist speaks to you when you call. -- they call back three days from now to establish they had better things to do. i call, dear god, do you have
any idea what is going to happen to you, and they didn't call until days later. could call back on the record to tell us they would sue us and they didn't. billy bush didn't call back. we send in just a transcript, not the full videotape. they said, "it doesn't solid mr. trump. can you send us the videotape?" we send them the videotape, and we said we would push it back until 4:00 but after 4:00 we will publish. the lawyers were fine with publishing without trump's commented this is as close as you got to stop the presses moment in the digital era. the clock strikes 4:00. one of the editors walks back to the desk to hit the button to publish the story, and trump's people calls -- she is in transit, 40 yards or whatever -- she says, hold on, we have a statement.
the statement arrived and i was surprised because their strategy had been deny, attacks, don't respond. they said basically, yes, it is him, locker room talk, 10 years ago, bill clinton said something worse, but yes, it is him. i else stop and we added that into the story and published it at 4:02. we didn't worry that nbc was going to beat us on the story. they had it in the archives. we learned later that they had it for a week. we beat by four minutes. we get all the credit and we are not the only person on a limb reporting it. the hardest part for me for the whole thing was newspapers are still very fusty about bad words, and usually if you want to get one bad word in the newspaper, it takes a huge amount of effort, all these levels of approval. bs in the paper
when police chief charles ramsey said it. .ill: if you quote him david: this story had all the curse words. we never had that kind of challenge, a very important person saying a lot of terrible thing. a lot of it was getting the editors to rule which letters we could spell out, which letters use asterisks. -- all the talmudic thinking about -- george carlin would have been proud. [laughter] bill: we were all proud, actually. what was the reaction from the trump people once the story hit? david: well, i didn't hear anything from them. that night as you recall to produce the sort of hostage video where he apologized more fulsomely and said now back to the work of the campaign. but i didn't hear anything from them after that and i thought maybe it would get some practice to, sue somebody -- threat to
sue, sue somebody over it. never heard from them again. bill: so mr. trump is now the president of the united states. you were saying earlier that before come he was certainly using his position to make a lot of money and spend as little money as he can. certainly now that he is president of the united, he is not still making money -- president of the united states, he is not still making money. david: well -- bill: what are you working on now is what i am getting at. david: i am on a team that is working on trump and his business interests. i have a piece on the golf clubs and mar-a-lago, and 70 assess merchandising. -- somebody else has merchandising. have day-to-day control of the businesses but he still owns the business is. he could choose not to exercise the control he has but legally
he is the person who controls them and the person who benefits. bill: a certain percentage of every dollar spent at every trump property goes in his pocket. david: that's right. bill: is that legal? david: well, in a general sense, yes. there is no conflict -- conflict of interest laws in the same thing that would apply -- we saw the labor secretary dropout, army secretary drop out, the number two person at commerce may drop out because of the difficulties of divesting himself. to theaws do not apply president. he does not have a responsibility to divest himself. it is not illegal for him to make money. there is a couple of clauses in the constitution that apply, the foreign emoluments clause that says the president cannot accept a gift or emolument -- a 1700s exact meaning in this context is debatable, never tested in the courts. he cannot accept an emolument
from a foreign government. these people contend that that doesn't mean the government of saudi arabia rented out a ballroom or the belgian ambassador ordering a beer at a trump hotel, that doesn't count, that the emoluments should only apply to outright gift. there's something called the domestic emoluments clause which means that he in theory cannot raise his own confrontation as president beyond the allotted salary. government'se u.s. resources to pay himself more comeback could also be a violation. the problem is most presidents have tended to stay miles and miles away from this kind of conflict, there is not any good case law. when a half case law made as a result of trump -- it is not clear who enforces this. did the framers intent for congress to enforce through impeachment, or the courts? we will find out more about that -- there is a couple of lawsuits about them monuments going on. bill: it has never been tested
legally yet. david: no. in trump's -- i don't know if this is a defense or not, but the closest parallel to what he is doing is lbj. his family owned a bunch of radio stations in texas and theoretically that was a blind trust, but biographers have found that lbj used special phone lines to call the person running the blind trust and tell him what to do. were to take day-to-day control of his businesses, that would not be the first time it would happen. another benefit of donald trump we can thank him for, how many have referred to the word "emoluments," or knew how to spell it? ared: amazing, there professors out there who spent their whole lives studying the emoluments clause not knowing it would ever be important, and this is their day. bill: you mentioned legal challenges. there was one almost day one of fall by thecy
citizens for responsible the and ethics in washington. the group exists, believe it or not. we are not sure how much responsibility and ethics exists in washington. cru -- what you know about that lawsuit? david: the first problem is going to be the issue of standing. you cannot just sue the government if you don't like what the government is doing because if we all suit the government supports couldn't work. they need to prove some unique injury as a result of trump taking emoluments, and their argument is that they are and ethics watchdog and by being unethical, it causes more work for them. it is possible that will stand. it is all theoretical, but law professors think that the best case might come from if you were, say, a rival hotel in washington, someplace like that, and i government gave you
business and took it away and gave it to trump, you might be able to sue, but a lot of these hotel chains are foreign-known, and the ones that are not, you are asking them to take on the president of the united states in kind of a long shot lawsuit. so far nobody has been willing to. bill: isn't he in violation of the law every day from day one because of the trump international hotel -- not because of the money he is getting, but because of the lease? electedhe lease says official of the government cannot be owner of the lease. he is owner of the lease and president. they are talking to gsa about that. i thought that would be resolved more quickly but -- i have heard rumors come everything from he is just going to -- they are just going to change the lease, rewrite police and take that claws out, or put ivanka it and and the hotel to ivanka eric and dawn. i have heard lots of theories but nothing concrete has happened bill:. bill:i guess a lot of these
questions will be answered once donald trump releases his tax returns. [laughter] bill: now, why did everybody laugh? david: any day now. -- it was a bad thing to say in public because this is not how lawsuits work -- but they said that they hope the lawsuit at least get the discovery phase so that you through discovery gets is taxes. but they may not like the idea that they are being used as an avenue for discovery and not a real lawsuit. bill: we will never see them, will we? david: you will never surrender them voluntarily but i can imagine an investigation of congress or a court case produces them. all of these russian investigations -- i don't know if they will, but you could see that getting to a point where they request it. certainly if democrats held congress right now. bill: you and your group at "the washington post," there was no doubt that a lot of the rest of
us are part of this group, but you are at the front line and realize the enemy of the people. how should the media deal with that when you have the president of the united states saying that you are the very, very, very dishonest media? enemy of the american people is a loaded phrase. i think "the post" reported this week that even nikita khrushchev said when he took over that that is a phrase nobody should ever use. david: he was not really an advocate of the free press, either. bill: so how should the media respond? by getting angry and striking back, or just ignoring it as another rant? david: i will say two things. who seesp is somebody the media as basically his main constituency. so much of his self-worth and his image and his view of what the presidency should be about
is the media and how he is reflected in the media. the reason he says things about the media is you spent all of his time watching television and he cares much about how the media portrays him. i think the phrase "enemy of the people," people hear it and think he is somebody who is going to crush the media and clamp down, and who knows what he will try to do in the future, but he sees the news media as the most immediate way of validating that he is doing a good job in the presidency. think of how often he watches orrning joe" or fox news read the newspaper watches cnn and response to it. so much of his life is lived in the media. that is one thing. bill: and he is a creation of the media. david: that is one of his best deals, manipulating and getting good publicity. he is very dependent on the media.
existsot summary that personally or politically without the news media. second thing is our executive editor, marty baron, had a really good line about this. bannon causes the opposition party and says we are at war with the media. marty says we are not going to war, we are going to work, doing the same job we have always done explaining to people and holding powerful people to account. whatever they think is irrelevant to that. our attitude towards them cannot be colored by the idea that we are at war with them because that makes you make all kinds of decisions about -- it's last your judgment and leads you to be more reckless in terms of what you believe. we are not at war with them. we are writing about them because they are powerful. their attitude is a little irrelevant in that case. bill: his words do have an impact. when you look at some of the public polling, the media comes maybe right behind or just slightly ahead of members of
congress in terms of approval rating. if -- i think marty has got the answer, right? you don't go to war, you go to work. continue to tell the truth and do our jobs. do you think eventually the public will say, all right, the media, they are right and trump is wrong? already think we are seeing people become much more interested in politics and turning to news media sources in a way they had not been before, ,nd sort of seeing us anew seeing us as a valuable resource that had taken for granted. in general the media is like congress -- everybody hates congress but like their congressman. they hate the media but they like the news sources they use. we want to be that, we want to be the new source they use. i never experienced a time in which people are sort of
praising us at "the new york times" and the mainstream media in the way they have now. people say -- you always have people who unsubscribe or cancel a subscription because of you. i've never had people say i subscribed because of you except the last six months. bill: you have seen that at "the post"? david: yeah. i don't know about "the times," but their numbers have gone up. attacked themmp and us -- he attacks them a than us, but anytime he attacks any one of us, interest goes up. that tom hanksay sent the white house press corps e present machine -- an spresso machine? [laughter] david: if he is watching, we want a keurig machine at "the
post." i don't know how to use an espresso machine. bill: the problem with the espresso machine, we don't have room for it. and i know we are getting time for your questions but it is such fun to get a chance to talk to david fahrenthold. have you ever seen a white house where there were more l eaks? i mean, it is great, but what does it say about this white house? you know they are coming from the white house. david: i must say, i am not giving away any secrets because i am only seeing this as a reader and colleague. i'm not part of the white house team so i don't see this up close. but yes, what we are seeing now -- bill: it is driving them crazy. david: yeah, but it is of their own doing. any other white house, there is a sense of a coherent message. when the president speaks, when one of his aides speaks, in the past you could assume it would be factually accurate and that
it would reflect some larger policy. thing.dn't be a one-off if the president says x, that is his strategy and he will say x tomorrow. it was a predictor of actions to come. that is totally out the window with his white house. the president will talk about anything and forget about it and never come back to it. 3 million people voted illegally -- now it is forgotten. all these things he said that people at the time said, oh my god. we believe he will be like other presidents and do something about this. and he doesn't. that is one thing. and there are so many named white house officials on the record saying things that are not true of predicted things that did not come to pass. michael flynn has the full confidence of the president -- that for conway said hours before he was fired. sean spicer said jeff sessions
will recuse himself of what/ five hours later sessions recuses himself. your's not a sense that opinions are being listened to and your thoughts are passed through channels are you look at other ways of getting your point across. mike pence learned that michael flynn lied to him because of "the washington post" reporter. they were in the same building and "the washington post" reported it. and today trump said he didn't know sessions had talked to kislyak until "the washington post" reported it. if you're in the white house and you want to get a message to the president, don't tell your boss. tell us. that is how he learns. [laughter] [applause] bill: power of the press. power of the press indeed. i have to use this, since i brought it. copy of the united
states constitution, and the california constitution, by the way, and it is open to the 25th amendment. people did not know about and emoluments, the emoluments clause, and not many people knew the 25th amendment existed until now. people suddenly read it and say oh, my god. there is a way short of impeachment if someone wanted a change. david: right. bill: does it work, and what do you think the chances are? david: i am not that familiar with it. i know it would involve asserting infirmity, mental or physical infirmity, inability to carry out the job. bill: if the vice president and a majority of the cabinet wrote a letter to congress saying the man is unfit to function, can't function, the vice president becomes the present. and if the president then says, oh no, i'm ok, nothing wrong with me, they are wrong, then if they write the letter again, a
two thirds vote of each house of thecongress could depose president come in effect. this dates from 1967. never been challenged, never been tested. we were talking about this earlier. it was put in because when howard baker took over as chief of staff for ronald reagan at the very funny joke of -- the very end of his and administration, the people who were leaving told baker we are not sure he is all there anymore, and you better have a method where you can get the president out, because ronald reagan was starting to slip. there is the 25th amendment. david: i don't see that happening anytime soon. bill: damn! david: i've been wrong about pretty much everything regarding donald trump's political career but i don't not see that. bill: so when is the book coming out? david: can't stop to write a book.
if i wrote the book of week ago it would be outdated now. we are in the era when i go home and have dinner with my kids and put them to bed and hours later i go to twitter and the world has changed. bill: it is a wild ride. i picked up my phone this morning at 6:12, and the first thing i saw was the tweet from donald j. trump that went out at 6:01 a.m. at the white house. david: one of the interesting things about trump and the tweets that has been striking is there used to be a debate before he took office, like in the interim after the election, and after, how do you cover the tweets how much energy should you devote to covering the tweet? there was a time when we were thoroughly covering every tweet. it is funny how in five weeks that debate has been resolved to you don't cover the tweets.
they are repetitive, often, and there is often -- they are not part of anything bigger. they are not a great predictor of what the government will do. i think he had this amazing pulpit during the election and right after the election where he could tweet something and we would stop what we were doing -- not america, america is not on twitter. but political journalists would stop what we were doing and write and make tvs about whatever he said. and he blew it and we are back to nobody caring. every of these tweets is less relevant. that was a mistake on his part, a messaging mistake on his part. tweeted something this morning, stock market or something. nobody talks about it at all. maybe he will regain that, but the power that he had to reach out directly and become everyone's assignment editor and reach americans directly with his words, he has managed to lose it. bill: i think that is a good
sign that maybe we in the media, that we have grown up and don't have to report on every one of -- well, back to the book, here's the deal. when you write the book and finished the book, you are welcome back to the whole center and we will have a great big party. [applause] bill: and i will turn it over to you, if you don't have any questions, i have a lot more. there we go. >> as we begin the questions, speak directly into the mic, and we are happy to welcome c-span today. we are on c-span1. so wait until you receive the mic to ask the question. bill: great, here we go. just the one mic? and you are the man. >> donald trump said he wouldn't accept the salary of president. and i don't know if that was the law or the custom, and he said yes, he would accept it but
would give it away to charity. do you know if he is actually doing that? david: i don't, and that is one of the things -- there is a bunch of promises to give to charity that have been made since the election. they raised a bunch of money for the inaugural committee and said they didn't spend most of it. his campaign accepted a whole lot of illegal campaign donations and said they would give it to charity. he said he would give his 200-something-thousand dollars salary to charity. part of my job to figure out if those things came true but i haven't done it yet, but i'm interested in that. i have my suspicions. bill: [laughter] thathat to the list -- add to the list. you --just follow you -- >> this is an excellent very perio -- extraordinary period -- bill: is that mic on? >> this extraordinary set of
circumstances has followed a long decline of the news media, financial fortunes, having nothing to do with donald trump. my question is are the media up to this? david: that is a great question. i think there is a couple of answers come a couple of parts to the answer. one is that trump is actually really good for our bottom lines. you cannot ask for anything better than donald trump -- for the people to cover the news -- bill: andy cable networks. david: yes, us at a place where we are relatively strong. you could imagine a governor or may are going rogue and that is the place where the news media is often weak, local and state government coverage. we are better positioned to cover that than a lot of places. i've beenat so far amazed at how much the media has risen to the challenge. inauguration,he
like last night was a good wasple, when the flynn ignition wasn't about -- we posted a story at 8:00 and "the times" posts at 9:00 that takes it further and then "the wall street journal" post something you weren't expecting. that has been really impressive. amazing thing to me is the shift -- so much of political journalism is to be not exactly theater criticism, but messaging criticism. how did the president get his message across, optics of this and that. we are going to critique the show. and so little of the coverage of trump, with the exception of his speech on tuesday night, has been that kind of coverage. it has been very investigative. even the coverage of the white house, more messaging-based coverage from has been so investigative and so great. so far i've been really impressed. he caught us at our strongest place and i'm impressed by what
happened so far. yes, so just as an aside, thank you for your work. i am one of those millennials and i never subscribed to a newspaper and overnight at changed. bill: all right. >> my question relates to tuesday night's speech. i am under the impression that especially with this presidency, and in more recent times, things are more judged on style than substance. this phrase "the night he became president." my question is, do you think that is true? is that something that is gaining steam, that attitude analysis -- david: that was, i thought -- i mean, it was not a great moment for journalism in general, i think, because the speech, even if you take it as a speech, there was not much in there in terms of substance. trump came in with all these big
unresolved inks like russia that were unresolved but also the house -- how is the republican party going to do with health care, tax reform? things that republicans in the room were divided and they needed him to say here is what i want. they expected that he would be a strong force and push them in a direction and he didn't answer any of those questions. he read a decent speech from he honored to the navy seal's widow cucamonga sleep, for reasons not having an -- widow, who, obviously, for reasons not having anything to do with him, was a powerful moment. you're right, people were saying "he became presidential tonight." the thing i thought about that is everybody is so hard on partisan voters. out there in the country who are hardcourt republicans and hard-core democrats, and we say how do you ignore 100 fax and 99 of them don't please you, you ignore 99 of them in august on the one you like.
-- ie say that about trump didn't think he would do this and this but i like one piece of his agenda. but that night the news media was like those people. we wanted -- not me, but people wanted to see a regular president because they are used to covering regular presidents. a guy who gives a speech and has a policy agenda, they wanted him to be like everybody else they covered. even earlier that day he was saying that maybe the bomb were a to the jcc's hoax, he blamed the generals for the raid in yemen. those things were not presidential, and yet he does one thing that is presidential and everybody is like, i am going to focus on that. he is presidential because of the one thing that happened that fit preconceived notions of what i wanted. we have to be careful about that and not think that the one night that makes it seem like he is a regular president, we will feed on that. happens a lot on the campaign, too.
i think what we have seen since then, all of this reporting about trump and russia, is what i hope more of journalism is what about facts and actually happened as a poster here is my theater criticism of something everybody saw. bill: good question. who has got the mic? hi. >> i actually have two questions, if that is ok. can you comment -- as a reader and consumer of news, so many things are happening every day. can you speak to the challenges that your newspaper and other mainstream news outlets are having in terms of prioritizing that for your audience? secondly, more personally for you, and also as a voter, there were times during the campaign where i thought, well, this single thing that trump has done, he has done himself in. and continuously shocked to see that wasn't the case. as a reporter, were there times when you thought, this is it? and what are the frustrations in covering this so hard and i
wonder if it seems sometimes that it doesn't matter, that people are reading it but they are voting for him anyway. david: well, the first question of how do you keep up and that was really hard, especially in , where seanek spicer insisted the crowds were bigger and there was the executive order in the protest. i had to remind myself, because my job is not just to read the internet. i have a specific job that has nothing to do with these things and i have to be good at it. for us, so much of political journalism before was generalist. i cover politics. there was the assumption that the president and congress would talk about health care for three months and there was enough time if you are a generalist to get up to speed. now stuff just comes out of nowhere and you cannot be generalist anymore. you have to be subject matter experts. starts talking about government contracting or chicago or immigration, there is
somebody who is ready to go right then. the second question about the impact of it, during the election i never thought that there would be one thing that sank trump because he had survived so many things before and he was so good at moving from one scandal to the next without people focusing on any of them. and he ran against a weak opponent and somebody who had the bad fortune of having his e-mail scandal resurface right before the election in a very powerful way. so he got lucky in that respect. a number of respected the good thing is the election is over. right now that question that was always hanging over us , is it ourcampaign job to move voters and change people's minds -- there is not going to be another presidential election for four years. now it is just about what he is doing.
it was never our purpose to make people vote one way or the other, but it is nice to not have that frame applied. whatever he does -- truthfully, i don't know where -- i'm not trying to push in any direction because i have no idea where it is going. i would never have predicted we would be here five weeks in. you have to follow it day to day and not know what the next thing is going to be. bill: you find that "the post," jeff bezos and marty baron, they give you the freedom, the license, the time to really kind of go where the story goes? david: yes, and that has been wonderful. we are a bigger set than we used to be because jeff bezos put money into us and about what we do. campaign, once the charity thing became a big deal i only did that from the beginning of june until november, and that was a great luxury, i got much further down the road than i would have if i did other things. right now i'm doing the golf
courses. i'm trying to build a list of everybody who belongs to mar-a-lago. when they were reading about terrorists and eating steak. that is great, that is a resource that will hopefully pay off later on. it is wonderful to have space and time. bill: are you finding surprises of the people who have memberships? 200,000 at mar-a-lago? david: so far it is a lot of rich people, what i've learned. [laughter] bill: no shit. oh, i'm not allowed to say that on c-span. where are you? >> i'm also one of those people who subscribe because of you, to "the washington post." [applause] my question is two parts. one is i don't understand why he lies so much, so maybe you can help us understand that. i've never seen anything like that, where he just makes things up.
you expect politicians to stretch the truth a little bit, but not to make things up. that is part one. the other part is i don't understand how evangelicals in aside the could put claimed forhad been .o long to follow trump as one who is of christian faith, i feel abandoned by thiselicals for having belief thatvalue has come out as a result of this. if you could speak to the lies and how evangelicals and , who decided to follow him despite all of the apparent an obvious lies. david: well, the first question
about his relationship with the truth -- bill: heh heh. david: you have to think about his interactions with the media for a long time. he has been a show men and promoter and developer. for a long time when he was in those roles he could say things that weren't exactly true or were exaggerated and nobody knew enough, because he ran a private company without releasing many details. nobody knew enough to call him on it. and he was dealing with reporters who would come in and do their "access hollywood" segment and leave and didn't have the knowledge to call him on it. i think he got used to exaggerating or not telling the truth about the things he was doing. there was kind of this idea that maybe as a showman that was what he did. he didn't have to tell the truth . one of the most fascinating stories i did along the way is a guy with tim o'brien, who used
to work for "the new york times," and in the book he had an estimate of how much trump was worth and it was lower than what trump was saying. trump suit o'briant, which was stupid, because that gave o'brien's attorneys -- he had really good attorneys -- a chance at discovery and actually look into this black box of a company trump had been talking about all these years. an amazing to date deposition that we had a transcript of where it showed that he was not telling the truth again and again and again. hours and hours of them saying come on this day you said you sold 400 units of the trump tower. is that true? yes. i have this paper that says you sold only -- oh, yeah. he would not tell the truth even when he had to know -- he would say a falsehood even when he was talking to somebody who he would
know had the right answer, he would be called on it. after compiling all these falsehoods, called experts on lying and people who study lying, and they were amazed by them. [laughter] david: the things they said, like most people on you lie, you lie in aie, way that this local room. -- gives wiggle room. think of "i do not have sexual relations with that woman." he has an out. definition of what is is. specifics, i was sold this many buildings, and they were surprised by his lack of fear of being caught. even when he was caught him he didn't feel psychological pain. that is the environment he lived in for a long time. he never felt my think, a ,ompunction to tell the truth
narrowly defined, the actual truth, or face any penalty. that is the history that has led him to write now. look at his campaign. how many times did he say things during his campaign that weren't true and he wasn't punished? this is mecals, speculating because i did not spend time with evangelicals during the campaign, but i think thegelicals felt they were siege from all sides and they shared with trump a common enemy, that looked down on them as bigoted. even if trump didn't share the same police they did -- billie did,d, -- beliefs they they show the same enemy and he would take the fight to them. or wouldn't be there past but would lead to the fight
against the people they had failed to win the fight against. that is my theory. bill: where are we now? >> i have a question -- it is interesting you say that you finally or the news media has finally stopped paying attention to these tweets every day. we watch tv in the morning and we don't hear "donald trump tweeted something he watched on fox news," whatever. it is interesting to hear you say that you are part of the teen that is looking at this aspect of charity. are there also people who are putting aside all the chaos, but beside all the stuff going on, and actually looking at the process of governing how policy is being made, who are the policymakers, and how is the trump presidency, if i can use that term, how is the trump presidency going to function in the future so that the real stories when they come out, you
are on top of those stories? david: that's a good question. the answer is yes, we have a number of folks looking agency ,y agency, and the best example the most sort of proactive person that trump has put in a cabinet agency has been scott pruitt at the epa, who is proposing huge cuts on a variety of things, but the regulations and funding to enforce the regulations. we have had a really good coverage of that. it is still just proposed at this point -- there is a lot of fighting over whether he can roll the rules back and court cases. we have been a little slower on financial regulations could i think we are catching up because we just hired a summary from "the wall street journal" to cover trump and economics. yes, there are so many things about the presidency that, because it is so fractured and different parts do different things without notifying each other, it could be that the people he puts in charge of these agencies pursue the agenda
different than what trump said he would do when he was campaigning or even what he thinks he is doing now. it will be fascinating, and that is an area where "the times" also has a big staff and there will be competition there. bill: if i could piggyback, one thing i have found interesting in the last week is there have been three or four cabinet secretaries that have stood up to disagree or when donald trump has said most recently as radical islamic -- their masters have called this all staff and should not be using this phrase anymore, it leads to more violence and more terrorism. he really worked strongly to get that out of the speech to congress, and obviously that was a turf war going on inside the trumpffice, and so when
used this phrase, he did not just roll it out. islamic"radical, terrorism." he wanted to make sure everyone heard it. and sebastian gorka, he tweeted out that he had won the civil war that. one of the interesting things we figure geld desk yet to out is that when trump says something policy oriented and then someone like mike pence or nikki haley or tillerson most -- will go out and say he did not mean it. said we have given up on the idea of a two state solution in israel. and nikki haley said that was not true. the two state solution is still our policy. he said things about nato, and then matus would go out and say would go out and say the policy is the same as it
was. who told him to say that? was a tillerson, pets -- pence? the president said the opposite of this yesterday, but it does not matter what the president. our policy is what it always was through the think the answer to that will tell you a lot about the white house. people say that day and it is the president, but he is with trump on those things. is the president, but he is with drop on those things. i would love to know was telling them to say that and making the public, because trump does not challenge it. it is not like he goes back and challenges it, i meant what i said, but it is just an interesting dynamic to be. -- to me. i know this -- >> i know this might not be your beat, but i wonder why the ebsa
sat on the access hollywood tape for as long as they did? my colleague, who covers the i thinkote a story, but they found it. they run the story on a friday, they found it on a monday i think the dispute was that the thattainment division overseas access hollywood wanted to do it. they wanted to do a version where billy bush's voice was not heard, it was dropped on a bus saying it to himself -- trump on a bus saying it to himself. [laughter] >> but that ended it, i read. i did not report it. >> we will do one more here. yourank you for all of good news. to pick up on what we were just saying, we have a presidential
apparently -- president two is apparently a pathological liar and a malignant narcissist. i don't believe anything he says or tweets, nothing. that would go on to his associates as well. i will try to discuss the post how you meet that -- i wonder how you discuss of the post-try to meet that challenge? reduce your column inches by a lot if you only covered what they did. what is the strategy for that? you could adopt the media policy that says we will not cover what anyone says because it is not federal, and we will cover what they do. think, without making conscious policy decisions, we are moving to a place where what is always part of the stories, but it is treated very differently than what the white the past.said in
if the white house says something, u.s. room there was a can entered reason that, they were all on the same page. the official responses, denials, ortever from sean spicer conway, even the ones on the record, they are not the final word at all anymore. they elliott -- carry much less force, and will do it all the time if they continue to say things that are not true. it is a real problem for the white house. they think about all the policy debates they want to be part of. all of the emergencies they come up with. they want to speak with a voice of authority, and if they have squandered that authority, insisting mike flynn had not lied when he had lied, they will find that credibility very weak. you stuff to cover what they say, that is the most important part, but what they say is not the news anymore.
, and a part of the story often a part of the story were the white house says this but it was proven wrong. it is a real challenge. it is not something we have ever covered in a white house for. even there on the record statements are proving to be factually inaccurate. and i want to suggest to all when you readt the book or see the movie made about this time, i want you to rubber it started right here at the health center. nteer.l ce and so we want to thank you all for coming tonight, and personally i want to thank you for being you are in the work that you do, and in a day when there are so many attacks on the media. it means a lot to the rest of us