Certain major U.S. media outlets including CNN, New York and Los Angeles Times were barred from attending Friday White House briefing, indicating an escalation in the relationship between the media and the young Trump administration.
Since he was sworn in on 20 January, Trump has been attacking the US media, deriding them as purveyors of ‘fake news’, ‘dishonest media’ and so on and had disputed several accounts published by the media.
Not trusting how they would treat his story, Trump last week addressed a rally in Florida.
Just today, Trump in the morning lashed out at the FBI in a Twitter rant calling on the agency to find and punish leakers in the wake of a CNN report casting his administration in a negative light.
According to the cable-news outlet’s Thursday evening report, the FBI rejected a request from the White House.
The request was to knock down reports alleging communications between Trump allies and Russian officials during the 2016 presidential campaign.
According to CNN, White House officials specifically sought out FBI and other agency officials to claim the reports were untrue.
Trump had said earlier today that in spite of criticisms of certain U.S. media organisations, he is not against the fourth estate of the realm.
Hours later, though, his office repudiated the stance as it banned some major news outlet such as CNN, New York Times and Los Angeles Times from covering Friday’s briefing at the White House.
Trump made his position on the press known at the Conservative Political Action Conference after several weeks of controversial statements about the media.
His apologetic position, however, betrayed his aversion for those he stigmatized as ‘dishonest’ media outlets.
“I’m not against the press; I don’t mind bad stories if I deserve them and I tell you, I love good stories, but we won’t. I don’t get too many of them.
“They are very dishonest people; in fact, in covering my comments, the dishonest media did not explain that I called the fake news the enemy of the people – the fake news.
“They dropped off the word ‘fake’ and all of the sudden, the story became, the media is the enemy; they take the word ‘fake’ out, and now I’m saying, oh, no, this is no good. But that’s the way they are. So I’m not against the media.
“I want you all to know that we are fighting the fake news. It’s fake – phony, fake.
“A few days ago, I called the fake news ‘the enemy of the people’ – and they are. They are the enemy of the people.
“Because they have no sources, they just make them up when there are none. I saw one story recently where they said nine people have confirmed. There are no nine people. I don’t believe there was one or two people; nine people.
“And I said, give me a break because I know the people who they talked to; there were no nine people but they say, nine people, and somebody reads it and they think, ‘oh, nine people. They have nine sources’; they make up sources.”
The President claimed that he was only against the “fake news media or press” adding, media should disclose their sources.
“I’m against the people that make up stories and make up sources. They shouldn’t be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody’s name; let their name be put out there.
“Let their name be put out. A source says that Donald Trump is a horrible, horrible human being; let them say it to my face. Let there be no more sources.”
Trump, however, said there are very honourable media men writing very fair stories.
“There are some great reporters around. They’re talented, they’re as honest as the day is long. They’re great.
“But there are some terrible, dishonest people, and they do a tremendous disservice to our country and to our people; a tremendous disservice.
“They are very dishonest people, and they shouldn’t use sources; they should put the name of the person; you will see stories dry up like you’ve never seen before,” the president said.
Trump, who said most U.S. media got his election polls and subsequent polls since his inauguration wrongly, claimed that he “love the First Amendment; nobody loves it better than me; nobody, I mean, who uses it more than I do?”
“But the First Amendment gives all of us – it gives it to me, it gives it to you, it gives all Americans – the right to speak our minds freely; It gives you the right and me the right to criticize fake news, and criticize it strongly”.