Skip to content
The Present

White House edits transcript of Trump mocking female reporter

The White House quoted the president as telling ABC News reporter Cecilia Vega that she’s “never thanking.”

Images: Screen capture of The Guardian's video coverage, via YouTube

Key Takeaways
  • President Donald Trump made an insulting comment to ABC News reporter Cecilia Vega yesterday.
  • The White House transcript of the exchange was incorrect, though it’s unclear whether the error was made mistakenly or deliberately.
  • The White House later issued a corrected transcript.

In an official transcript of a Rose Garden press conference on Monday, the White House incorrectly transcribed a remark made by President Donald Trump to reporter Cecilia Vega.

The president spoke about the new trade agreement between Mexico, Canada and the U.S. and then opened a question-and-answer session by calling on Vega of ABC News. Vega stood up and waited to be handed a microphone.

Trump: “She’s shocked that I picked her. She’s in a state of shock.”

Vega: “I’m not. Thank you, Mr. President.”

Trump: “That’s okay, I know you’re not thinking. You never do.”

Vega: “I’m sorry?”

Trump: “No, go ahead.”

In a video of the exchange, Vega can clearly be heard saying the lines quoted above. However, a White House transcript quotes the president as saying “I know you’re not thanking. You never do.”

Jeez. @CeciliaVega tells Trump she isn’t shocked he called on her. Trump says “I know you weren’t thinking, you never do.”
— Tommy Christopher (@tommyxtopher) October 1, 2018

It seems like the president heard Vega say “I’m not thinking, Mr. President” instead of “I’m not. Thank you, Mr. President.” That would make sense because Trump responds with “I know you’re not thinking.” Still, the insult was a bit surprising, not necessarily because Trump was dismissive to a reporter but rather because the comment seemed totally unprompted.

Official @WhiteHouse transcripts misquotes @POTUS today chiding @CeciliaVega (compare video to text). I was sitting just behind her in the Rose Garden and we all clearly heard him say: “I know you’re not thinking. You never do.”
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) October 2, 2018

After the awkward exchange, Vega asked a question about the FBI's investigation into the past of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Trump didn't answer the question, insisting the press conference was supposed to be about trade. Later, CNN's Kaitlan Collins also asked the president a question about Kavanaugh.

"Don't do that," he said. "Do you have a question on trade?"

Collins kept pressing the president on the question until the president said, "You know what. You've had enough. You've really had enough."

Vega later tweeted about the press conference.

A news conference means you get to ask whatever question you want to ask. #FirstAmendment
— Cecilia Vega (@CeciliaVega)
October 1, 2018

On Tuesday, the White House issued a corrected transcript in which the president says "I know you're not thinking."

In July, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow alleged that White House officials had deliberately excluded a question asked of Russian President Vladimir Putin in a transcript of a press conference in Helsinki. However, as the Washington Post reports, that incident appeared to be related to problems with the audio feed, not a deliberate attempt to omit a tough question from the record.


Up Next