BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith has an inside baseball report about a January 5 meeting between Republican frontrunner Donald Trump and the editorial board of The New York Times. According to Smith, many Times employees believe Trump conveyed to the paper—during a portion of the meeting deemed off-the-record —that his extreme policy positions on immigration are more flexible than he’s publicly admitted. Still, the Times refuses to release a transcript of the meeting, or even discuss Trump’s off-the-record comments:
I wasn’t able to obtain the recording, or the transcript, and don’t know exactly what Trump said. Neither Baquet, Collins, nor various editorial board members I reached would comment on an off-the-record conversation, which the Times essentially said they cannot release without approval from Trump, given the nature of the the off-the-record agreement. Times editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal told me he would not comment “on what was off the record at our meeting with him.”
The paper tells Smith that it would release their recording of the meeting, which has “reached near-mythical status at the Times,” only after obtaining Trump’s permission. The candidate’s campaign did not respond to Smith’s request for comment.
(We asked Smith, who serves as editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed, whether his site would release a transcript or recording of an off-the-record conversation it had conducted with a candidate (or anyone else) without obtaining their permission first. His response was: “No.”)