Donald Trump Slams 'SNL' Over "Biased" Portrayal, Defends His Tweeting in 'Today' Interview
After being named Time's Person of the Year, the president-elect called into the NBC morning show and talked everything from policy to the media and 'Saturday Night Live,' which he called "a terrible show."
Moments after he was named Time's Person of the Year, President-elect Donald Trump called into the Today show to discuss the honor, his interpretation of the cover headline ("Donald Trump: President of the Divided States of America") and many of his recent headline-making decisions.
Anchor Matt Lauer opened up Wednesday morning's 11-minute, wide-ranging interview by asking Trump for his reaction to the annual honor, despite the president-elect saying in the past that the magazine would never pick him. Last year, Germany's Angela Merkel took the top honor, while Trump was third on the list.
"It's a great honor. It means a lot," said Trump, adding that he grew up reading the magazine. "I've been lucky enough to be on the cover many times this year, and last year, but I consider this a very, very great honor."
Lauer reminded Trump that the magazine picks someone who has influenced the events of the year — for better or for worse — and asked if Trump considers it to be a compliment.
Responding to the "Divided States of America" cover line, Trump said, "I didn't divide them. They're divided now, there's a lot of division and we're going to put it back together and we're going to have a country that's very well-healed, and we're going to be a great economic force and build up our military and safety, and we're going to do a lot of great things and it's going to be something very special."
He later conceded that the addition of the word "divided" was "snarky," but said, "I'm not president yet, so I didn't do anything to divide." He then praised President Obama, saying now that he's gotten to know him he "really" likes him: "We talk. He loves the country. He wants to do right by the country and for the country and we, obviously, disagree on certain things but I really like him as a person."
Hillary Clinton earned the No. 2 spot on Time's list with the third going to "The Hackers," which managing editor Nancy Gibbs called "a new cyber security threat we saw this year of state-sponsored hackers looking to delegitimize an American election."
During the interview, Lauer and Trump also delved into topics ranging from Trump's tweeting to his criticism of Alec Baldwin's Saturday Night Live portrayal and his recent high-profile comments on Boeing, China and Mitt Romney.
Though Trump said in his first interview as president-elect to 60 Minutes that he would be more restrained on Twitter, Lauer said he had not seen Trump follow through on the vow since his election, referencing his recent social media bouts with the cast of Hamilton, China, Boeing, the media and SNL.
"Is this proving to be a habit that you're having a difficult time breaking?" asked the anchor.
"No, I think I am very restrained and I talk about important things," replied Trump, defending his comments about China. "Frankly, it's a modern-day form of communication," he added, saying his total number of followers across platforms is now more than 40 million people. "I get it out much faster than a press release, I get it out much more honestly than dealing with dishonest reporters because so many reporters are dishonest."
Lauer then asked Trump why he doesn't simply stop watching SNL.
"Well I hosted SNL when it was a good show," he replied. "It's not a good show anymore. First of all, nothing to do with me, there's nothing funny about it. The skits are terrible."
He then added about Baldwin, "I like Alec but his imitation of me is really mean-spirited and not very good. I don't think it's good. And I do like him, I like him as an actor. But I don't think his imitation of me gets me at all and it's meant to be very mean-spirited, which is very biased.
"Frankly, the way the show is going now and you look at the kind of work they're doing, who knows how long that show's going to be on? It's a terrible show."
Lauer then chimed in about the veteran NBC sketch series, "I think the show is going to be fine."
Lauer also pressed Trump on his picks and potential picks during his transition, prompting Trump to confirm former rival Romney is still under consideration for secretary of state. "We've come a long way together," Trump said, shooting down speculation that he's stringing the former governor of Massachusetts along as a form of retaliation.
When pressed about his comments made yesterday about canceling the order for Boeing's new Air Force One planes, which Trump would fly on if he ran for and were to be elected for a second term, Trump again said he thinks the planes "are too expensive,"
After the public back-and-forth, Trump said he'd spoken to the head of Boeing, presumably CEO Dennis Muilenburg, yesterday to negotiate the prices. Trump said the planes would cost more than $4 billion, while Boeing said in a statement it was currently under contract for $170 million.
Lauer asked Trump if his comments were again in retaliation, as Muilenburg recently criticized Trump's trade policies. Trump said he didn't see the comments and blamed The Washington Post for an article about U.S. corporations being "unnerved," despite Boeing suffering a dip in the stock market in the wake of yesterday's events.
"No matter what you do, they'll never say good," he said about the newspaper. "They're so unnerved that the stock market is at an all-time record since I've been elected."
He added, "I believe in free trade but I don't believe in stupid trade and stupid trade is when our companies all move out of our country, fire their workers and then come back in, Matt. If they want to fire their workers, move to Mexico or some other country and sell their product into our country, they're going to be paying a tax."
Trump also elaborated on yesterday's announcement from his team that he sold all of his stock market holdings in June.
"I thought that I was very much going to be winning [the election] and I think I would have a tremendous conflict of interest owning all of these different companies," he said, adding that he was never a big stockholder. "I don't think it's appropriate for me to be owning stocks when I'm making deals for this country that maybe would be affecting one company positively and one company negatively."
Watch the full Today interview below.