PoliZette

Trump Slams ‘Dishonest Media’ Over New FBI Leaks

President slams anonymous sources alleging admin tried to kill Russian contact reports

Amid reports that the Trump administration tried to get the FBI to publicly discredit a story that the campaign had constant contacts with Russian officials, President Donald Trump ripped the “dishonest media” on Friday.

Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland, President Trump did not mention the reports by name but made clear he detests anonymously sourced stories aimed at undermining his administration.

“They shouldn’t be allowed to use sources, unless they use somebody’s name. Let their name be put out there … Let them say it to my face.”

“They shouldn’t be allowed to use sources, unless they use somebody’s name,” he said. “Let their name be put out there … Let them say it to my face.”

CNN — with attribution to anonymous sources — reported Thursday that the FBI rejected a White House request to knock down articles about communications between Trump associates and Russians. Such a request could be a violation of procedures designed to limit interference with FBI investigations.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer denied that characterization, and an administration official told CNN that a deputy director of the FBI raised the issue with Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.

Trump’s speech at CPAC represents an escalation of his war on “fake news.” He told the audience that he would not back down.

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“I want you all to know that we are fighting the fake news. It’s fake. Phony. Fake,” he said. “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.”

Trump complained that the media distorted what he said about news coverage. He said he did not declare all media the enemy of the people, just those that fail to accurately report the news.

“They dropped off the word ‘fake,’ and all of a sudden the story becomes the media is the enemy. They take the word ‘fake’ out,” he said. “I’m not against the media. I’m not against the press. I don’t mind bad stories if I deserve them.”

Brian Stelter, host of CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” called Trump’s speech divisive.

“The demagoguery continues,” he told viewers. “This was all about us vs. them … He tries to divide the real media from the fake news media.”

Unnamed sources long have been the currency of journalism in Washington. Without them, much of what happens behind the scenes in government would go unreported. Stelter bristled at suggestions that the public cannot trust news reports with anonymous sources.

“Journalists do not make up stories and sources,” he said.

Stelter took particular umbrage at one line from the president’s speech: “We’re going to do something about it, because we have to go out, and we have to speak our minds, and we have to be honest. Our win was a victory like nobody has ever seen before.”

Stelter saw it as a threat.

“A lot of journalists had a chill up their spine when they heard that,” he said.

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In context, however, it seems clear that by “do something about it,” Trump was referring to speaking out against reporting he considers unfair and not locking up journalists or revoking broadcast licenses. Just before that line, he noted that the same First Amendment that protects the press guarantees even a president the right to speak out.

Stelter even acknowledged that for all Trump’s tough talk, he has taken no action against journalists.

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PoliZette senior writer Brendan Kirby can be reached at [email protected].