Trump Calls CNN 'Fake News'

Donald Trump's hostility toward the media was on full display at, appropriately, his first press conference in six months held in New York Wednesday.

Angered by news stories—specifically on CNN—that top U.S. intelligence officials included the synopsis of an uncorroborated report that Russia had comprising information about the President-elect, Trump called CNN "fake news" and "terrible," refused to take a question from CNN White House reporter Jim Acosta, and suggested that a number of the outlets in the room trafficked in "fake news," though he did not name anyone else.

Trump did say he thought more highly of the news outlets that did not report on the report, though he did not identify them, either.

After the press conference, Acosta said Trump had indicated from the outset he would not call on CNN. Following Trump's attacks, Acosta tried to get in a question but was rebuffed.

Acosta says spokesman Sean Spicer also threatened to throw him out of the press conference.

He also doubled down on his tweeted characterization of the leak of the report as something that would happen in Nazi Germany.

"CNN's decision to publish carefully sourced reporting about the operations of our government is vastly different than Buzzfeed's decision to publish unsubstantiated memos," CNN responded in a statement. "The Trump team knows this. They are using Buzzfeed's decision to deflect from CNN's reporting, which has been matched by the other major news organizations. We are fully confident in our reporting. It represents the core of what the First Amendment protects, informing the people of the inner workings of their government; in this case, briefing materials prepared for President Obama and President-elect Trump last week. We made it clear that we were not publishing any of the details of the 35-page document because we have not corroborated the report's allegations. Given that members of the Trump transition team have so vocally criticized our reporting, we encourage them to identify, specifically, what they believe to be inaccurate."

BuzzFeed, which also drew Trump's invective, posted the entire uncorroborated report alleging Russia and Trump campaign contacts and Russia's possession of incriminating evidence of a sexual nature related to Trump. CNN, by contrast, reported only that a synopsis based on that report was part of an intelligence briefing to both Trump and President Obama, that the FBI was investigating it, and that members of Congress were looking into it, citing multiple sources. 

Trump did make some news besides his attacks on the media. He said that he believed Russia was behind the hacks, that he would likely name a nominee to the Supreme Court within two weeks for Inauguration Day (Jan. 20), and that he would put two of his sons in charge of his businesses and give any payments from foreign governments for use of his news Washington hotel to the treasury.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.