US President Donald Trump has stepped up his attacks on the “fake media” but reporters are fighting back, objecting to a presidential news conference that avoided tough questions.
Mr Trump tweeted and voiced complaints about the media’s treatment of his ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn and the “criminal” leak of details on Mr Flynn’s discussion with Russians.
Mr Flynn is out after less than a month, with White House saying Mr Trump lost confidence in him for misleading Vice-President Mike Pence about talks with the Russian ambassador.
The president held a news conferencebefore meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. As he did during the past week following meetings with leaders of Canada and Japan, Mr Trump called on reporters from friendly news outlets.
On Wednesday (US time), he chose David Brody, a columnist for the Pat Robertson-founded Christian Broadcast Network, and Katie Pavlich, editor of the conservative web site townhall.com.
Mr Trump complained about unfair media treatment of Mr Flynn and blamed people upset with his victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton for being responsible for media leaks.
He then ignored shouted questions about whether his advisers were in touch with Russian officials. His spokesman denied such contacts as recently as Tuesday afternoon (US time).
Mr Trump smiled and walked away when one reporter shouted out if he could ask about Mr Flynn.
CNN’s Jim Acosta said the administration was clearly trying to avoid questions, adding that Mr Trump could “only be shielded for so long”.
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) February 15, 2017
Presidential aide Kellyanne Conway, meanwhile, won’t be answering questions on MSNBC’s Morning Joe program, at least for a while. Show co-host Mika Brzezinski said that Ms Conway wouldn’t be allowed on the three-hour public affairs program “because I don’t believe in fake news or information that is not true. Every time I’ve seen her on television, something’s askew, off or incorrect”.
It’s been a rough stretch for the presidential counsellor.
She said on MSNBC Monday that Mr Trump had “full confidence” in Mr Flynn, hours before he lost his job.
A government ethics panel urged the White House to discipline her for urging Fox News Channel viewers to buy Ivanka Trump’s products. NBC’s Matt Lauer admonished her,
“Kellyanne, that makes no sense,” he said during a Today show interview.
Then there was Kate McKinnon’s portrayal of an unhinged Ms Conway on Saturday Night Live. CNN said last week that it had turned down a chance to book her on Jake Tapper’s program because she had credibility issues.
An excerpt of McKinnon’s Fatal Attraction spoof
Mr Trump has also used a series of tweets to blame the media and “illegally leaked” intelligence information for bringing down Mr Flynn.
The real scandal here is that classified information is illegally given out by "intelligence" like candy. Very un-American!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 15, 2017
– with AP