President Trump on Sunday intensified his assaults on media organizations that cover him and his administration, dismissing them as unpatriotic and irresponsible.
The attacks followed a tweet from the president in which he revealed that he had met the publisher of The New York Times, A.G. Sulzberger, and outlined some details of their conversation.
Trump tweeted that the two discussed “the vast amounts of Fake News being put out by the media & how that Fake News has morphed into phrase, “Enemy of the People.” Sad!”
That drew a sharp response from Sulzberger rebutting the president. According to a statement from the Times, the July 20 meeting was off the record at the request of White House aides. But when the president disclosed the meeting via Twitter, Sulzberger said the off-the-record deal was no longer in effect.
“I told the president directly that I thought that his language was not just divisive but increasingly dangerous,” Sulzberger said in the statement, which also revealed that the meeting was also attended by James Bennet, the editorial page editor for the Times.
“I told him that although the phrase ‘fake news’ is untrue and harmful, I am far more concerned about his labeling journalists ‘the enemy of the people,'” Sulzberger said. “I warned that this inflammatory language is contributing to a rise in threats against journalists and will lead to violence.”
Sulzberger said throughout their conversation he made clear that if the president had qualms with the coverage of his administration, he was “free to tell the world.” But Sulzberger said he implored Trump to reconsider his attacks on journalism, which Sulzberger called “dangerous and harmful to our country.”
While the president’s first tweet seemed to imply the meeting was positive — he called it “good and interesting” — by Sunday afternoon, he was off on a Twitter tirade, seemingly in response to Sulzberger’s statement. “I will not allow our great country to be sold out by anti-Trump haters in the dying newspaper industry,” he wrote at one point.
“When the media – driven insane by their Trump Derangement Syndrome – reveals internal deliberations of our government, it truly puts the lives of many, not just journalists, at risk!” Trump tweeted. “Very unpatriotic! Freedom of the press also comes with a responsibility to report the news … accurately.”
Tension between the Trump administration and journalists is particularly intense lately.
Days after the July 20 meeting with Sulzberger, Trump said in a speech to Veterans in Kansas City, Mo., “Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news,” he continued a few moments later, “Just remember: What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.”
And as NPR reported, the White House disinvited CNN correspondent Kaitlan Collins from attending an open event in the Rose Garden last week because she shouted questions to the president earlier that day. She was a pool reporter representing the larger press corps at the time.