Conflict continues to arise between President Trump and reporters
The latest in a series of conflicts between the current administration and various news organizations arose on the afternoon of Sat, Dec. 9, when President Donald Trump called for the Washington Post to fire one of its reporters following a misleading tweet regarding the president’s campaign-style rally on Friday.
On Saturday morning, President Trump tweeted that the venue of his rally in Pensacola, Fla. was “packed to the rafters.” He added, “the crowd was loud, loving and really smart. They definitely get what’s going on.” Shortly afterward, Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel quoted Trump’s statement about the size of the crowd in a tweet accompanied by a photo of the arena, which appeared to be half-empty.
Weigel removed the photo after other Twitter users pointed out that it had been taken while the arena was still filling with rally-goers, and that later photos verified the president’s statement. Trump tweeted a screenshot of the deleted post later that day, alongside photos of the rally taken while it was underway. Weigel “put out a phony photo of an empty arena hours before I arrived @ the venue, w/ thousands of people outside, on their way in,” Trump wrote. “Demand apology & retraction from FAKE NEWS WaPo!” The emphasis is that of the president and not of the Round Table.
Weigel apologized, tweeting, “It was a bad tweet on my personal account, not a story for Washington Post. I deleted it after like 20 minutes. Very fair to call me out.” Trump continued the Twitter exchange by writing that “@daveweigel of the Washington Post just admitted that his picture was a FAKE (fraud?)… he should be fired.”
Following the social media discord, the Washington Post’s vice president of communications Kristine Coratti Kelly said in a statement that “Dave Weigel relied on an inaccurate image in tweeting about President Trump’s rally in Pensacola. When others pointed out the mistake to Weigel, he quickly deleted the tweet. And when he was later addressed by the president on Twitter, he promptly apologized for it.” The paper has not indicated whether or not it has plans to take the president up on his suggestion.
During the rally in question, which featured festive versions of signs from his 2016 campaign with Vice President Mike Pence, Trump reiterated his endorsement for Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, who currently stands accused of sexual misconduct with a number of teenage girls. Trump was prompted to voice his support by a man in the crowd who shouted, “We want Roy Moore.”
“He’s right,” the president said, adding, “The future of this country cannot afford to lose a seat in the very, very close United States Senate.” He went on to emphasize an inconsistency in the story of one of Moore’s accusers.
Trump also revived his hostility toward Brian Ross, who was suspended from his position as chief investigative correspondent for ABC News on Sat, Dec. 2 after incorrectly reporting that former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn would testify that Trump had asked him to make contact with members of the Russian government prior to the 2016 presidential election. Trump called Ross a “fraudster” at Friday’s rally.
These recent conflicts with journalists are indicative of Trump’s increasingly belligerent relationship with the media. The president called journalists “sick people” at a rally in Phoenix, Ariz. in August; in September, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that an ESPN reporter’s tweet calling Trump a “white supremacist” was a “fireable offense.”
The day of the Florida rally, CNN issued a correction of a report that had claimed that Donald Trump Jr. received advance notice about documents stolen from the Democratic National Committee in July 2016. In reality, the president’s son received an email from the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks the day after the hacked emails were made available to the public.
“Fake News CNN made a vicious and purposeful mistake yesterday,” Trump posted to his Twitter on Saturday morning.
He maintained his accusations against the media on Sunday, tweeting, “Very little discussion of all the purposely false and defamatory stories put out this week by the Fake News Media. They are out of control – correct reporting means nothing to them. Major lies written, then forced to be withdrawn after they are exposed…a stain on America!”