- The Washington Times - Friday, July 13, 2018

Different country, same “fake news.”

President Trump clashed with U.S. and British media on his first official visit to England Friday, criticizing NBC, CNN and Britain’s tabloid The Sun during a press conference with Prime Minister Theresa May.

“We have a lot of false reporting in this country,” Mr. Trump told Mrs. May, referring to the U.S. “I don’t think you have that in your country, do you, prime minister?”

Although the two have their differences, they both laughed in agreement on that point.

At the press conference, after Mr. Trump slammed the American networks with his trademark “fake news” insult, he called on Fox News White House reporter John Roberts to ask a question. But before Mr. Roberts could speak, CNN reporter Jim Acosta called out to the president from the row of seats behind the Fox News correspondent.

“Mr. President, since you attacked CNN, can I ask you a question?” Mr. Acosta interjected.

“No, no. John Roberts, go ahead,” Mr. Trump responded. “CNN’s fake news. I don’t take questions from CNN. John Roberts of Fox. Let’s go to a real network.”

“Well, we’re a real network too, sir,” Mr. Acosta called out.

The feud prompted the White House Correspondents’ Association to issue a statement in defense of the media.

“Asking smart, tough questions, whether in a presidential press conference or interview, is central to the role a free press plays in a healthy republic,” said WHCA President Margaret Talev of Bloomberg.

She noted that the president had taken a question from a CNN reporter in his NATO news conference a day earlier.

“Maybe he was letting off steam today rather than expressing an official stance toward a news organization’s ability to report, but saying a news organization isn’t real doesn’t change the facts and won’t stop us from doing our jobs,” Ms. Talev said.

The president also criticized The Sun for publishing an interview with him Thursday night that he said unfairly characterized his remarks about Mrs. May. In the article, Mr. Trump said that Britain’s current Brexit plan would probably kill the possibility of a trade deal with the U.S.

Mr. Trump said the article was “generally fine, but it didn’t put in what I said about the prime minister, and I said tremendous things.”

He said he protects himself by having the White House record all interviews.

“Fortunately, we tend to record stories now so we have it for your enjoyment if you’d like it,” Mr. Trump said. “But we record when we deal with reporters. It’s called fake news. And we solve a lot of problems with the good old recording instrument.”

Ms. Talev noted that The Sun also posted its entire audio recording of the interview online “so that everyone can hear the president’s remarks for themselves.”

The president also clashed in the news conference with NBC White House reporter Kristen Welker, who asked him, “Are you giving Russian President Vladimir Putin the upper hand heading into your talks, given that you are challenging these alliances [such as NATO] that he seeks to break up and destroy?”

Mr. Trump replied, “See, that’s such dishonest reporting because — of course it happens to be NBC, which is possibly worse than CNN.”

Mr. Roberts later addressed the president’s comments and defended his media colleagues on the air.

“Well, let me just add that I know Kristen Welker, she’s a friend of mine. She’s as honest as the day is long. To call her dishonest is unfair,” he told Fox News viewers.

Mr. Roberts also came to the defense of CNN, saying, “I used to work at CNN. There are some fine journalists there who risk their lives to cover the news around the world, and to say that they are not a real network or fake news is also unfair.”

Gabriella Muñoz contributed to this story.

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