The White House press secretary on Tuesday defended President Donald Trump for labeling the press the “enemy of the American people” and accused some news organizations of purposely reporting biased, inaccurate information.
At the daily press briefing, press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that the president has “deep respect for the First Amendment and the role of the press,” but added “it’s a two-way street.”
Spicer slammed “certain outlets” he claimed had “gone out of their way not to be completely accurate and fair about what is going on.”
“It is a concern to him,” Spicer said.
Trump said in a tweet last week that the “FAKE NEWS MEDIA (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”
The statement represented an escalation in Trump’s long-running quarrel with the media, which he has referred to as “dishonest,” fake” and even part of the “opposition party.”
Critics, including Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, defended media outlets.
“If you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and, many times, adversarial press,” said McCain on NBC’s Meet The Press program.
Past U.S. presidents have battled the news media. But rarely, if ever, has the relationship between the media and the White House been so contentious.
On Tuesday, Spicer took specific aim at reports suggesting Trump had been careless with classified information during his response to North Korea’s recent missile test.
Various reports said Trump and other senior White House officials made phone calls and discussed other sensitive matters in the full view of private individuals at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
Asked Tuesday about the incident, Spicer said Trump and other White House officials followed the appropriate security guidelines and had already been briefed in a secure location.
“It’s amazing that a photo gets out and the president has a piece of paper, and the immediate conclusion is that he’s got to be talking about classified information,” Spicer said.
“When you talk about coverage, we have a free press, we have the right to say and do as they believe, but at some point it is incumbent on people to try to get it right,” he said. “And in that case, it wasn’t even attempted.”