President Donald Trump argued opposite sides of two very similar case studies in media ethics on Tuesday in an interview with The Daily Caller.
On one hand, the President argued that NBC News was wrong to allegedly suppress reporting on accusations of sexual harassment and assault made against Harvey Weinstein. On the other hand, he said he’d considered suing the network over the so-called “Access Hollywood” tape, in which he described on-mic, during a taping of the NBC show, how he had kissed and groped women without their consent.
The Daily Caller, after its interview with Trump, reported that the President “attacked NBC for allegedly quashing its journalists’ attempts to expose sexual assault and harassment by [Weinstein].”
Ronan Farrow and Rich McHugh, both former NBC News employees, have alleged recently, in increasing detail, that the network interfered with their reporting on Weinstein. Farrow eventually published his work in the New Yorker.
“I consider it to be worse than CNN with Harvey Weinstein,” Trump told the Daily Caller, echoing a tweet from earlier in the day in which he said NBC “journalistic standards” were “worse than even CNN.”
In the same Daily Caller interview, however, Trump said there were “questions about” the “Access Hollywood” tape. The tape was released weeks before the 2016 elections.
“There’s even questions about the tape, there’s many things going on,” Trump said, before falsely saying the tape “was done in a trailer secretly” (it was recorded on a bus, not a trailer) and that it “was illegal what they did” (it was not illegal).
Arguing against his own right to sue NBC over the recording, Trump added: “What were the damages? I won the election.”
The story of the “Access Hollywood” tape’s release is newly relevant in light of Farrow and McHugh’s claims about NBC News’ interference in their reporting.
As the New York Times noted in its report on McHugh’s allegations Thursday, the Washington Post scooped NBC News on the existence and contents of the “Access Hollywood” tape even though, in the paper’s words, the show “is part of the NBC Universal family, which gave the network a first shot at the story.”