CNN’s Brian Stelter doesn’t know for sure why Lesley Stahl waited more than a year to reveal President Trump’s admission that he deliberately tries to discredit the media, but he does have a “cynical” theory.
“I have a theory about that, it’s kind of cynical though,” Stelter told HLN host S.E. Cupp Wednesday evening. Stelter then went on to explain his belief that basically Stahl and her employer kept it quiet in order to preserve their access.
“Lesley Stahl has the first interview, as you mentioned, post-election. Then ’60 Minutes’ doesn’t get an interview for over a year. They were in negotiations with the White House trying to get Trump to sit down,” he said. “Obama did a ’60 Minutes’ interview pretty much every year. They had high expectations. They thought Trump would agree to an interview last fall. He never did. Now it’s been 18 months, they’ve given up and maybe they think, so what, we’ll tell what happened.”
“You think they were hoping to get more access to him?,” asked Cupp, cutting to the chase.
“It’s only a guess, but it’s an educated guess, having covered ’60 Minutes’ and covered this world for a while,” Stelter continued. “It’s possible she felt there was no reason at this point not to share what happened in that meeting.”
A rep for Stahl and CBS did not immediately respond to Stelter’s charge. Both Cupp and Stelter are employed by CNN, which is owned by CBS rival Turner Broadcasting.
Stahl stunned the media world for a few hours after telling fellow news veteran Judy Woodruff at the Deadline Club Awards dinner Monday that Trump told her several months before he became president that he only attacked the media in order to blunt the impact of negative stories.
“He said, ‘You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all, so when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you,'” Stahl said. “He said that. So put that in your head for a minute.”
“I met with him in Trump Tower and he really is the same off camera that he is on camera, exactly the same, at one point he started to attack the press,” she added offering context. “He’s attacking the press, there were no cameras, there was nothing going on and I say, ‘You know that is getting tired. Why are you doing this? You’re doing it over and over it’s boring.'”