CBS White House correspondent Major Garrett doesn’t buy the portrayal of President Trump as an enemy of the media and a chief executive who has eliminated access for journalists.

“He loves us, and he hates us, and he loves us,” he said with a laugh.

“There is more access to this president than there was to Obama. We see him all the time. He takes questions a lot,” Garrett said. “We see him and interact with him and punch in questions with far more frequency than with Obama. Probably more so than for W. Bush,” he added.


Much more a student of the White House than a critic, Garrett however said that having access doesn’t make it easier to cover the president’s White House.

“It wears me out,” he told Secrets in an interview to talk about his latest insightful book, Mr. Trump’s Wild Ride.

While other presidents were more methodical and followed a standard path to making policy, Garrett said that Trump is sometimes impatient, and pushes for change with his morning tweets that forces his bureaucracy to catch up.

In other cases, policy will be developed through the normal channels, but then Trump will junk it when it reaches his desk.

As a result, Garrett said that he now is far more cautious than others before reporting on Trump decisions.

“I’m so careful about what’s proposed, what’s considered, what’s talked about. You get a lot of loose descriptions of things that are under discussion, or moving toward,” he said.

“There are several stories that I have not pushed ‘Send’ on because I’m just not sure. Because I think in the Trump era, there is, I don’t want to make a blanket statement, there is a temptation [by the media] to be first and near right and I have tried to avoid that temptation. I’m much more comfortable with being second and right than first and near right or first and flat wrong.”

Garrett has covered several presidents for many outlets and has a good sense of the presidential character. And with Trump he sees something brand new to the Oval Office — an A-list celebrity who uses what he learned in the New York media spotlight and NBC’s “The Apprentice” to manipulate his message and image.

“As much as he hates us, he at some level is addicted to us and loves to see how what he bounces out there bounces back. He takes a measure of the media and in so doing he takes a measure of the country because he does have a genuine sense, more than any previous president, of what it means to be a celebrity and what it means to be a celebrity now,” said Garrett.

“Ronald Reagan at his best was a B-ranked celebrity who was in B-ranked movies. He was never William Holden or Henry Fonda or any of the great actors of his era, not even close. Trump is not a great actor, but he had a No. 1 show, he lived in the world. He’s a fully formed celebrity, not a fully formed ideologue. He’s a fully developed celebrity and his knowledge and sense of the elasticity of media coverage and shoving something in and watching it bounce back is more acute than any president we’ve had,” said the correspondent.

Garrett even endorses Trump’s questioning of the media, though not his attack that it is “the enemy of the people” because, he said, it can erode trust in reporting.

Still, he added, Trump’s punches at the press can be good.

“On the high side, it’s calling the question: What’s reporting? I have no problem that question being called because good reporting is not afraid. Good reporting can withstand, and it damn well better withstand, the harshest criticism imaginable,” said Garrett.