Donald Trump said Thursday that CNN “is in a total meltdown” that would soon lead to its demise as a result of its decision to report that he and President Barack Obama had been briefed on an unverified intelligence report containing damaging and salacious information about the president-elect.
“.@CNN is in a total meltdown with their FAKE NEWS because their ratings are tanking since election and their credibility will soon be gone!” he wrote on Twitter.
Trump has long been a critic of CNN, which he views as having been biased against him both during his presidential campaign and since his Election Day victory. The president-elect and his team have renewed their attack on the network in recent days after CNN reported that a synopsis of that unverified report had been included in intelligence briefings given to President Barack Obama and to Trump. BuzzFeed followed later that night by publishing the 35-page report in full, cautioning that it was unverified and contained errors.
The friction between the network and Trump’s transition ignited briefly at Trump’s Wednesday press conference, where CNN reporter Jim Acosta loudly demanded a question before being shut down by the president-elect. Incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Thursday that Acosta should apologize not just to the president-elect but also to his colleagues in the media.
Acosta’s protestations at the press conference came as Trump was maligning both CNN and BuzzFeed for their reporting on the unverified intelligence report, which was reportedly developed by a private company on behalf of Republicans opposing Trump’s candidacy. As Trump lashed out at both outlets, Acosta stood up and asked “since you’re attacking us, can you give us a question?” The president-elect responded by admonishing Acosta, telling him “don’t be rude” and “I’m not going to give you a question. You’re fake news.”
“He verbally went after the president of the United States, was aggressive with him, inappropriate, rude, disrespectful to say the least. He shouted down over Mara Liasson, a well-respected long time journalist who was asking a question,” Spicer said of Acosta on Fox News’s “Fox & Friends” Thursday morning. “I think he owes an apology to the president-elect, to his fellow members of the press corps and especially to Mara Liasson, who was doing her job to ask question in respectful, polite manner.”
Spicer noted that a different CNN reporter had already been given an opportunity to ask a question when Acosta began interrupting the press conference and that his behavior was “unbecoming of someone addressing the president or president-elect of the United States.” That he acted that way, Spicer said, “frankly doesn’t represent the press corps respectfully, and I know that many journalists feel the same way.”
Still, Spicer said both CNN and BuzzFeed will be allowed to retain their seats in the White House briefing room, although the incoming press secretary added that “if you look at how quick BuzzFeed’s failing, I’m not sure that they’ll be around by the time we take office next week.” During his press conference, Trump called BuzzFeed a “failing pile of garbage” and Spicer posted to Twitter Wednesday night to attack its web traffic numbers.
Trump will continue to take questions from both outlets, Spicer said.
“Should they end up coming to the briefing room, the president-elect doesn’t stand down anybody,” Spicer said. “He’ll take any question.”