Meet the 19-year-old reporter who pleased Trump at a combative press conference | Toronto Star

During U.S. President Donald Trump’s strenuous and freewheeling news conference late last week, there emerged a brief respite from the pointed questions about Russia, national security, immigration policy and chaos at the White House.“Mr. President,”...

Meet the 19-year-old reporter who pleased Trump at a combative press conference | Toronto Star

During U.S. President Donald Trump’s strenuous and freewheeling news conference late last week, there emerged a brief respite from the pointed questions about Russia, national security, immigration policy and chaos at the White House.“Mr. President,”...

26 February 2017 Sunday 07:08
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Meet the 19-year-old reporter who pleased Trump at a combative press conference  | Toronto Star

During U.S. President Donald Trump’s strenuous and freewheeling news conference late last week, there emerged a brief respite from the pointed questions about Russia, national security, immigration policy and chaos at the White House.

“Mr. President,” a reporter began, “Melania Trump announced the reopening of the White House Visitors Office. And she does a lot of great work for the country as well. Can you tell us a little bit about what First Lady Melania Trump does for the country?”Trump lowered his combative tone. “Now, that’s what I call a nice question,” he said. “That is very — who are you with?”

The answer — UNF News — barely registered with Trump.

“Good,” the president said. “I’m going to start watching, all right?”

UNF News is not a television network or a radio network, for that matter. UNF, or Universal News Forever, is the baby, identity, passion and obsession of Kyle Mazza, 19, who posed the question.

The question, mocked a little on social media, will most likely end up as a footnote. But Mazza’s unlikely path to the White House is a strange tale befitting these strange times.

Read the latest on U.S. President Donald TrumpEND

UNF News, Mazza said, was his “own news station that I started when I was 8 years old.”

The network has neither advertisers nor subscribers. Yet in an era of fake news, partisanship and rancour, Mazza seems unfailingly earnest and without an agenda — aside from trying to become a reporter.

After forming WUNF, Mazza would write articles about events in his hometown, Fair Lawn, N.J. A few years later, he obtained press credentials from a local cable access channel, giving him access to courts and other official events.

By the time he got his driver’s licence two years ago, he had seven police scanners and three weather radios.

After graduating from high school, Mazza took classes at the Connecticut School of Broadcasting while pursuing his passion. Once he could drive, he aimed his sights on Manhattan.

“I covered one of the mayor’s press conferences,” he said of Bill de Blasio, New York’s mayor. “After I did that I got on the list to get advisories from the mayor, so I said, ‘Why not go to city hall and get myself known there?’ ”

For the past couple of years, he has become a semi-regular in the city hall press corps. He said he mostly covers politics, breaking news and entertainment, but allowed that he really covered whatever struck his fancy.

Other reporters had mostly kind things to say about Mazza, even if they said his approach reflected his age and experience.

But even his mother was shocked when she saw him on national television.

Mazza had been going to the White House since the election, and said he had gone to four press briefings by press secretary Sean Spicer, securing weekly passes. He happened to be in Washington on Thursday when Trump announced he’d hold an impromptu news conference.

Read more:

The 5 other front page stories the Star could run after Trump’s wild presser

Everything Trump said in his wild and hostile news conference

‘I’m not ranting and raving,’ Trump attacks the press at wild news conference

“I was prepared,” Mazza said, explaining that he had a news release from the White House about the first lady opening the visitors office, “and I said to myself, ‘There has not been a lot of coverage about this,’ and I thought it could be interesting.”

Despite the tension during the combative news conference, Mazza said he was not nervous, saying to himself, “If he doesn’t like my question, he doesn’t like my question. I am just going to ask my question.”

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