In May 2017, President Donald Trump cut a controversial interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, where he said that he was planning to fire FBI Director James Comey “regardless of recommendation” and that the accusations of collusion with Russian officials to rig the results of the 2016 elections were an “excuse” the Democrats were making to explain their defeat. More than one year later, the president took to Twitter on Thursday morning to reference that interview and accuse Holt of “fudging” the tape reportedly being reviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller and his team as they investigate the collusion allegations.
“What’s going on at @CNN is happening, to different degrees, at other networks – with @NBCNews being the worst,” Trump tweeted, also noting the rumors that NBC News Chairman Andy Lack, whom he referred to as a “lacky [sic],” might be fired from his position.
“When Lester Holt got caught fudging my tape on Russia, they were hurt badly!”
Holt and Lack weren’t the only specific media figures whom Trump called out on Twitter in a series of posts, as Deadline noted he also accused CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker, or “Little Jeff Z” as he was referred to, of “doing a terrible job” as the network’s head. The president added that CNN’s ratings “suck,” and that AT&T should ensure CNN’s credibility by removing Zucker from his post.
In another Thursday morning tweet, Donald Trump continued firing off against the media, calling media outlets, in general, the “enemy of the people” and again accusing them of spreading fake or dishonest reports to the masses.
“I just cannot state strongly enough how totally dishonest much of the Media is. Truth doesn’t matter to them, they only have their hatred & agenda. This includes fake books, which come out about me all the time, always anonymous sources, and are pure fiction.”
It still remains unclear why Donald Trump accused Lester Holt of “fudging” the Russia tape, but Deadline speculated that the president might have been alluding to far-right media reports that claimed his interview with Holt was edited with special effects when aired on mainstream news channels.
Science and technology publication Gizmodo likewise posited that Trump’s “fudging” comments might trigger debates about “deep-fake” videos, where people appear to be saying things they didn’t actually say, but also suggested that Trump might have simply been trying to deflect attention from the Mueller probe by bringing up the interview where he told Holt why he fired James Comey.