For The Hollywood Reporter's first-ever Anchor Roundtable, five top TV broadcasters, Savannah Guthrie (Today), George Stephanopoulos (Good Morning America), Jake Tapper (The Lead and State of the Union), Gayle King (CBS This Morning) and Bret Baier (Fox News) gathered for a conversation on working in news during the Trump era.
With President Donald Trump being a hot topic during the discussion hosted by THR's Marisa Guthrie, the talk turned to how the country got to where it is today. And after criticism on how the campaigns of Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton were covered, the five anchors were asked what they would have done differently.
Tapper said he would focus on "more policy." Baier said, "I'd focus less on polls." In terms of focusing on the candidates' policies, though, Stephanopoulos pointed out that it wasn't so easy for Trump.
The GMA host said, "On any given issue, it was actually often quite difficult to figure out what President Trump's policy was."
He added, "We all drilled down in interviews, 'How is the wall going to be paid for?' 'What exactly are you saying about health care?' 'How are you going to cover everybody?' And we would get contradictory answers. Or no answers."
Suggested Tapper, "Let's say going forward, Republican X has a 10-point plan for dealing with the opioid crisis and Democrat Y has nothing, just a lot of rhetoric. Maybe there is a way to highlight that better."
With the shock of the election of Trump to many at the table, Baier pointed out the warning signs that were missed. "We all missed it. We all missed the whole thing, I think, collectively. We didn't see all the people who said, 'Neither side is working, kick the table over and start over, I'm for change, even this change.' When I was on my 12th Uber driver of all different races and backgrounds [saying] that they were voting for Trump in different places around the country …"
King recalled the vast difference in the crowd size of the two candidates' campaign rallies. "At 1, 2 in the morning, the [crowds] that turned out for Donald Trump were a very big indication that I don't think enough of us paid attention to."
Tapper added, "We would see tens of thousands of people in the middle of a very rural area at midnight to see then-candidate Trump, versus a school in a very populous area outside Philadelphia at 2 in the afternoon to see Hillary Clinton and there's like 100 people."
With a laugh, Baier concluded, "And the Clinton campaign said they liked the intimate setting. It just didn't sell that well."
For more on this conversation check out THR's full uncensored roundtable here.