President Trump’s feud with the media
turned into an all-out war Thursday
His early presidency beset by damaging
leaks and a burst of staff turmoil, Trump
used a hastily called press conference to
blast the media’s coverage of his
administration in his strongest terms yet.
He claimed the press is “out of control,”
reports on his team’s ties to Russia are
“fake,” and news outlets are attacking him
because they oppose his agenda.
"The media’s trying to attack our
administration because they know we are
following through on the pledges that we
made, and they’re not happy about it," Trump
declared at the White House.
The president spoke and took questions
for more than an hour and 15 minutes, even
joking with some reporters toward the end
and saying he was having fun. In a bid to
preempt negative coverage of his remarks,
Trump insisted he was not "ranting and
raving." But he lamented that the "tone" of
coverage of his administration is one of
"The public doesn't believe you people
anymore," he said.
Trump, who is dealing with the roughest
stretch of his nascent presidency so far,
unleashed the battery of accusations after
first announcing his newest pick for labor
secretary. After his original nominee
withdrew, Trump nominated law school dean
and former federal prosecutor Alexander
Acosta for the post Thursday.
"He has had a tremendous career," Trump
said, noting he's been through Senate
confirmation three times for past positions.
But Trump pivoted to tout his
administration's record so far and to blast
the media for allegedly underplaying
"The press honestly is out of control,"
Trump said, vowing to take his message
"straight to the people."
Amid a court fight over his controversial
immigration executive order, which he
maintained is “lawful,” Trump said he would
announce a "new and very comprehensive order
to protect our people."
He also staunchly defended his
administration’s work on everything from the
economy to energy to security. "This
administration is running like a fine-tuned
machine,” he said.
The press conference was held days after
Michael Flynn resigned as national security
adviser over a controversy regarding his
past contacts with Russia’s ambassador.
Those contacts emerged in news reports. Fast
food chain CEO Andrew Puzder also withdrew
from consideration for labor secretary on
Wednesday amid deepening scrutiny of his
personal and professional past.
Trump on Thursday personally denied
having any contact or connections with
Russia, saying: "I have nothing to do with
Russia. I have no deals there. I don't know
While acknowledging he sought Flynn’s
resignation, he also said Flynn was just
doing his job by contacting Russia. He said
Flynn was asked to resign because he was
dishonest about the details of the call with
Vice President Mike Pence.
And he dismissed recent reports that
campaign aides had been in contact with
Russian officials before his election. Trump
called the reports a "ruse" and said he had
"nothing to do with Russia." Trump added,
"Russia is fake news. This is fake news put
out by the media."
In a free-wheeling event that, before
Trump, would have been unprecedented in a
modern presidential news conference, the
president by turns teased and lambasted
members of the press corps.
Toward the end of the press conference,
Trump summed up his complaints by suggesting
he was being blamed for problems that have
existed for years: “I didn’t come along and
divide this country. This country was
seriously divided before I got here.”
He also blasted Senate Democrats for
holding up his Cabinet nominees.
His latest pick for Labor Department
might have an easier time. If confirmed,
Acosta would be Trump’s first Latino Cabinet
member. According to top GOP sources,
Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and
other Hispanic leaders are enthused about
Acosta currently is dean of Florida
International University College of Law. He
previously served as the first Hispanic
assistant attorney general and as U.S.
attorney for the Southern District of
Florida, as well as on the National Labor
In the wake of the Flynn reports and other
damaging stories, Trump also has vowed to
root out those leaking sensitive
“We’re going to find the leakers. ...
They’re going to pay a big price for
leaking,” Trump said at a meeting ahead of
the press conference.