President-elect Donald Trump, not known for holding American news and media organisations in high esteem, had kinder words to say during his first press conference with reporters since winning the presidential election – but the pleasantries did not last long.
Trump fielded questions from reporters amid a growing scandal that has pitched the President-elect against the United States’ intelligence agencies and deepened the rift between him and some of the country’s leading media organisations.
At one point during the New York City conference, Trump deliberately ignores CNN’s reporter, calling the US network “fake news”.
“Good for you Jim, standing up for yourself, for this organization”— OutFrontCNN (@OutFrontCNN) January 12, 2017
ErinBurnett</a> to <a href="https://twitter.com/Acosta">Acosta re Trump news conference https://t.co/uNhtnYqlOO
This week it was revealed US intelligence agencies had received, and possibly leaked to the public, partially unsubstantiated information suggesting Russia had compiled compromising information about Trump which they would use to blackmail, or curry influence over, the President-elect.
Trump vehemently hit back to deny the allegation, calling the leak a disgrace and comparing the actions of the US intelligence community to those of Nazi Germany.
Without naming any other particular news organisation directly, Trump softened his tone toward those he believed scrutinised the intelligence report sufficiently.
“I want to thank a lot of the news organizations, some of whom have not treated me very well over the years, a couple in particular, and they came out so strong against that fake news and the fact it was written by one group and one television station, so I just want to compliment many of the people in the room,” Trump said. “I will tell you there were some news organizations with all that was just said that were so professional, so incredibly professional that I’ve just gone up a notch as to what I think of you.”
The sense of a rapprochement between Trump and the nation’s media was shattered, however, when Trump deliberately side-lined CNN reporter Jim Acosta.
I have covered 4 presidential campaigns. Democrats and Republicans. This has never happened. Let’s deescalate, find a way to work together. https://t.co/wgNsXlwt4z— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) January 12, 2017
CNN broke the news that US intelligence officials had briefed Trump on a Russian blackmail plot, but had refused to publish the allegations because they could not be independently corroborated.
Online website Buzzfeed published the claims in their entirety, prompting an ethics debate within the news media in the United States and leading Trump to say both organisations will suffer the consequences .
Here’s note BuzzFeed CEO
peretti</a> sent staff today.<br><br>“We are not going to respond to these divisive comments,” he says re: Trump criticism. <a href="https://t.co/O3SO7Z3k8G">pic.twitter.com/O3SO7Z3k8G</a></p>— Oliver Darcy (oliverdarcy) January 11, 2017
BuzzFeed CEO and founder Jonah Peretti defended the decision to publish the 35-page intelligence memo in its entirety, saying Buzzfeed will continue to “keep doing what we do best, which is deliver impactful journalism.”
Thomas Burr, president of the National Press Club, an organisation representing more than 3,500 journalists in the United States weighed in on the issue and expressed concern at the precedent Trump’s actions toward CNN might set in the future.
“It is dangerous and unhealthy to declare a news item as ‘fake news’ to distract from facts that you may not like or don’t favour your perspective,” Burr said in a statement http://www.press.org/news-multimedia/news/national-press-club-raises-concerns-about-trumps-use-fake-news . “Our incoming president must treat the news media as the vital cornerstone of our democracy that it is. To label something as ‘fake’ in an effort to undermine news outlets endangers the trust granted journalists by the public and is antithetical to our country’s values.”