Trump’s diatribe against the “fake disgusting news” took place during a Wilkes-Barre Township rally to endorse Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) in the state’s upcoming U.S. Senate race. The Pennsylvania crowd cheered Trump on, screaming “CNN Sucks!” only minutes into the rally.
Trump took particular interest in the coverage of his Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He insisted that Russia was “very unhappy” about his win and that it was a “good thing” he had gotten along with Putin.
“[The press] wanted me to walk up and have a boxing match,” Trump told the crowd. “What ever happened to diplomacy? Let me tell you, if I did go up and start screaming ― they would have said, ‘He was terrible. He was so rude. His performance was horrible.’”
Trump attacked the press for critical coverage of his 2016 presidential campaign and his interactions with other world leaders, such as his tea with Queen Elizabeth II. He told the crowd that the news media “can make anything bad, because they are the fake, fake disgusting news.”
“What ever happened to the free press? What ever happened to honest reporting?” Trump asked the crowd. “They don’t report it. They only make up stories.”
The president has continually called journalists “the enemy of the people.” He chose to attack the media after a woman died in Charlottesville, Virginia, last year, and he defended the white supremacists who triggered violent counterprotests in that city. Trump continued his anti-media rhetoric even after five journalists died in a targeted mass shooting in Annapolis this June.
Crowds verbally attacked CNN’s Jim Acosta on Tuesday shortly before Trump began a rally in Tampa, Florida. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders refused to defend the press during a briefing on Thursday when Acosta prompted her to.
“For the sake of this room, the people who are in this room, this democracy, this country, all the people around the world are watching what you’re saying, Sarah,” Acosta told Huckabee Sanders hours before Trump’s rally. “The president of the United States should not refer to us as the enemy of the people.”
“I appreciate your passion,” Huckabee Sanders responded. “I share it. I’ve addressed this question. I’ve addressed my personal feelings. I’m here to speak on behalf of the president. He’s made his comments clear.”