One day after The New York Times published a detailed report documenting how Donald Trump has attempted to influence and undermine investigations into himself and his allies, the president declared the paper an enemy of the people and denounced its reporting as false, the Hill reports.
“The New York Times reporting is false.They are a true ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!” Trump tweeted early Wednesday.
Trump did not elaborate or provide any specific refutations to the reporting, instead doubling down on general themes of journalists impropriety that he has long levied at media organizations with which he disagrees.
A.G. Sulzberger, the publisher of the Times, quickly refuted the characterization in a statement.
“It is particularly reckless coming from someone whose office gives him broad powers to fight or imprison the nation’s enemies,” he said.
“As I have repeatedly told President Trump face to face, there are mounting signs that this incendiary rhetoric is encouraging threats and violence against journalists at home and abroad.”
Critics of the president’s unprecedentedly strong rhetoric directed at the press have contributed to an overall climate of hostility towards the media which has become a breeding ground for recent incidents in violence and threats to journalists, reporters, and news organizations.
Is this the first time Trump has singled out a specific media outlet as an “enemy of the people,” rather than “fake news” generally? It is bad. pic.twitter.com/ZCm8zAIkMM
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) February 20, 2019
The most recent coverage by the Times includes reporting that Trump attempted to influence the investigation into his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, by asking then-acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker in 2018 to put a sympathetic attorney in charge of the probe.
“I don’t know who gave you that,” Trump said of the report, which he then characterized in typical fashion as “fake news.”
One specific criticism of the media’s coverage of his White House is, Trump says, that reporters do not call to request verification of stories related to the administration.
“That’s not true, that’s a lie,” New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, who recently interviewed the president, said.
“I don’t know if he knows it’s a lie or whether he is telling himself this is true, whether his staff doesn’t tell him we are reaching out. I find it hard to believe that his staff didn’t reach him that this kind of a report was coming.”
Haberman indicated that the White House was briefed on Tuesday’s story before publication, but that the administration was unresponsive until Trump would personally react after the story was published.
On a slightly different front in the ongoing battle between the president and the media, Trump recently cheered Nick Sandmann, the Covington Catholic student currently suing The Washington Post over its coverage of his behavior at a rally earlier this year.
“Go get them Nick,” the president tweeted. “Fake News!”
Sandmann is suing for $250 million.