Bloomberg News leaked Off-the-record comments from Donald Trump and that is now jeopardizing the trade deal with Canada.
Trade talks between the U.S. and Canada were disrupted Friday morning after off-the-record comments about the talks that President Trump made a day earlier were leaked to a prominent Canadian newspaper.
According to the Toronto Star, Trump told Bloomberg News during an interview Thursday he did not plan to compromise with Canada at all on a bilateral deal that would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement.
“Off the record, Canada’s working their ass off. And every time we have a problem with a point, I just put up a picture of a Chevrolet Impala,” the president reportedly said, referring to a popular automobile that is currently manufactured in Canada but owned by the U.S. company General Motors.
Trump responded on Twitter:
Wow, I made OFF THE RECORD COMMENTS to Bloomberg concerning Canada, and this powerful understanding was BLATANTLY VIOLATED. Oh well, just more dishonest reporting. I am used to it. At least Canada knows where I stand!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 31, 2018
Off the record: Ideally, terms are established at the start. And since nothing from the conversation can be used for publication, journalists are, ideally, cleareyed about the consequences of this arrangement, if they agree to it at all: Sources will have their own agendas, trying to shape future coverage to their liking.
Still, there can be benefits for a reporter, including the chance to see newsmakers in an unguarded setting. Do they know what they’re talking about? Do they seem overconfident? The chat is off the record, but the impressions last.
Often, even the existence of the conversation is to remain private. But sometimes, as with Mr. Trump’s tweet about The Times, the other side starts talking.
A lower-stakes example from my own experience: the ballad of Ted Cruz and the mediocre Chinese food. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Mr. Cruz held an off-the-record session with several reporters who were traveling with him, in the lounge area of a New Hampshire hotel lobby. Per the agreed-upon rules, no journalist reported on it.
But at his news conference the next morning, Mr. Cruz alluded to the evening on camera, making a remark about our Chinese food order. So, now it can be confirmed: A bunch of us ate Chinese food in Ted Cruz’s company at some hotel in New Hampshire more than two years ago. It feels good to say out loud.