In a meeting organised by Conway, Trump meets executives and on-air anchors from CNN, Fox News, NBC, ABC and CBS, the five largest television networks in the United States, for an off-the-record discussion. ABC News is represented by president Goldston and anchors Stephanopoulos, Muir, and Raddatz; NBC by anchors Holt and Todd, along with president Turness; CBS by Rose, King, O’Donnell and Dickerson; CNN by president Zucker, with anchors Blitzer and Burnett; Fox News by several executives including co-presidents Shine and Abernathy; and MSNBC by president Griffin. Transition officials wouldn’t discuss the purpose for the meeting. Sources:
It was like a f-cking firing squad. Trump started with [CNN chief] Jeff Zucker and said ‘I hate your network, everyone at CNN is a liar and you should be ashamed. The meeting was a total disaster. The TV execs and anchors went in there thinking they would be discussing the access they would get to the Trump administration, but instead they got a Trump-style dressing down…Trump didn’t say [NBC reporter] Katy Tur by name, but talked about an NBC female correspondent who got it wrong, then he referred to a horrible network correspondent who cried when Hillary lost who hosted a debate – which was Martha Raddatz who was also in the room.
Excellent meetings with the top executives of the major networks. Pretty unprecedented meeting we put together in two days.
Blitzer accepts the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and nominates Anderson Cooper, Donna Lemon and Brianna Keilar.
Netanyahu tells Blitzer that Hamas baits Israel into killing civilians in order to create ‘telegenically dead’ victims that they can use to influence public opinion in the 2014 Gaza conflict:
What choice do we have? We have to protect ourselves. So we try to target the rocketeers. We do. And all civilian casualties are unintended by us, but intended by Hamas. They want to pile up as many civilian dead as they can, because somebody said they use – it’s gruesome. They use telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause. They want the more dead the better.
Netanyahu tells Blitzer that reoccupation of the Gaza Strip would be an ‘excessive military plan’ and that nobody in Israel’s government wants to go to that extent, but doesn’t appear to completely rule out the possibility of retaking the territory:
I support taking whatever action is necessary to stop this insane situation…Just imagine – I mean, imagine what Israel is going through. Imagine that 75 percent of the U.S. population is under rocket fire and they have to be in bomb shelters within 60 to 90 seconds. So, I’m not just talking about New York – New York, Washington, Chicago, Detroit, San Francisco, Miami, you name it. That’s impossible. You can’t live like that. So I think we have to bring back, restore back a reasonable, sustained quiet and security. And we will take whatever action is necessary to achieve that.
When Blitzer asks if that includes possibly reoccupying Gaza:
Nobody wants to go to excessive military plans, but what is happening here is excessive.
Netanyahu says that Israel doesn’t ‘obliterate’ Palestinian civilians and has no battle with anyone other than Hamas, but that the brutality results from Hamas’ tendency to place rocket launchers near civilian targets – a tactic which he says is intentional.
People would say in the United States, as they’re telling me, obliterate the people. We don’t obliterate them. We don’t want to – we don’t have any battle with the Palestinians in Gaza.
He adds that having the right to self-defense also means being able to use it:
I appreciate the support we have received from President Obama and many world leaders for Israel’s right to self-defense. But others are saying, yes, you have the right of self-defense, as long as you don’t exercise it. What can a country do? What would you do? What would the people of the United States do if – if your cities were rocketed now, 2,000 rockets falling in American cities?
Netanyahu tells Blitzer that no deal is better than a bad deal on Iran, as the Islamic Republic he considers to be the world’s top terrorist state would seek to bypass efforts to prevent it developing weapons capabilities:
But I think what is important is that there wasn’t a bad deal, because there’s no deal. And no deal is better than a bad deal. We will see what the extension produces. I think a good deal is what was achieved with Syria. They’re under the threat of U.S. military action. And with the joint effort by President Obama and President Putin, Syria removed its chemicals and the capability to make chemical weapons. They didn’t just keep it in place, freeze it, and put it under a lock and put an inspector on it. They actually dismantled and removed.
That’s not what Iran is holding out for. Iran wants to keep its capabilities and say, we will put a lock under and you can inspect it. But the whole idea for them is that, at a certain point, they break the lock. The inspector will even say they broke the lock. It will take him a few weeks to put together the wherewithal for a nuclear bomb. That’s a bad deal. Don’t make that deal, because if you think the Middle East is bad now, with ISIS, with Hamas, with Hezbollah, and with Iran, wait until Iran, one of the pre – the preeminent terrorist state of our time, has nuclear weapons.