Donald Trump’s war with CNN is becoming more intense, as the president is again labeling the network “fake news” and is now precluding his officials from making appearances on the cable giant.
In a Wednesday meeting with black leaders at the White House for African-American History month, Trump commented on the “very hostile CNN community.”
“I don’t watch CNN,” Trump said. “I don’t like watching fake news.”
“But Fox has treated me very nice wherever Fox is, thank you.”
The Trump administration is also reportedly banning, at least temporarily, its spokespeople and surrogates from appearing on CNN shows.
“We’re sending surrogates to places where we think it makes sense to promote our agenda,” a White House official told Politico, acknowledging CNN is not such a location.
An unnamed CNN reporter indicated the White House is trying to punish the network and harm its ratings.
“They’re trying to cull CNN from the herd,” the reporter told Politico.
“Finally! This kind of thing should have been done long ago!” exclaimed Rush Limbaugh on his national radio broadcast Wednesday.
“The way Republicans are treated by these fake news outfits, there’s no reason to show up there and get pummeled unless you have the ability to pummel back. So the Trump White House has told CNN, ‘You’re fake news. We’re not sending our surrogates to your network.’”
Officials in the administration are still answering questions from CNN, but familiar faces including White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and senior counselor Kellyanne Conway have not appeared on the network recently.
At George Washington University on Monday, Spicer denied CNN was being frozen out, as specifically noting he has been answering its questions in daily briefings.
But, as Politico noted, he also explained, “I’m not going to sit around and engage with people who have no desire to actually get something right.”
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Before his inauguration as president, Donald Trump got into a now-famous confrontation with CNN’s Jim Acosta when the president-elect refused to take a question from the reporter, while blasting CNN as “fake news.”
New York magazine reported last week that Trump’s feud with CNN may have its roots in his personal relationship with CNN President Jeff Zucker, a former NBC president who brought Trump’s TV show “The Apprentice” to the broadcast network.
Zucker told the magazine he’s not worried about CNN having access to Trump is his new role as president.
“I think the era of access journalism as we’ve known it is over,” Zucker said. “I think our credibility is higher than ever, and our viewership is higher than ever, and our reporting is as strong as ever.”
“One of the things I think this administration hasn’t figured out yet is that there’s only one television network that is seen in Beijing, Moscow, Seoul, Tokyo, Pyongyang, Baghdad, Tehran, and Damascus – and that’s CNN,” he noted.