Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told the White House Press Corps on Tuesday that CNN was “a disgrace to journalism.”
Sanders’s remarks came after CNN retracted a “fake news” story over the weekend alleging links between a member of President Donald Trump’s transition team and a Russian firm, and after an exposé on Monday by James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas showed a CNN producer admitting the Russia story was “bullsh*t.”
Earlier in the day, President Donald Trump had blasted CNN on Twitter, along with other mainstream media networks. He also retweeted a parody of the CNN logo that recast the channel as “FNN” — “Fake News Network”:
Wow, CNN had to retract big story on "Russia," with 3 employees forced to resign. What about all the other phony stories they do? FAKE NEWS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 27, 2017
Sanders addressed the live, on-camera White House press briefing a day after Press Secretary Sean Spicer addressed a briefing that was carried live on audio only. The first question went to Breitbart News’ Charlie Spiering:
Spiering: Recently, Breitbart News challenged the accuracy of the CNN story, and afterwards it was retracted, [and] deleted, and the editors responsible were fired, as well as — the network apologized for the story. One of the targets of the story accept[ed] the apology. The president went on Twitter this morning and repeated that CNN was “fake news.” Why isn’t their response good enough for the president?
Sanders: I don’t know that it’s that the response isn’t good enough for the president. I think it’s the constant barrage of fake news directed at this president, probably, that has garnered a lot of his frustration. You point to that report. There are multiple other instances where that outlet that you referenced has been repeatedly wrong, and had to point that out or be corrected. There’s a video circulating now — whether it’s accurate or not, I don’t know, but I would encourage everybody in this room, and frankly everybody across the country, to take a look at it. I think if it is accurate, I think it’s a disgrace to all of media, to all of journalism. I think that we have gone to a place where if the media can’t be trusted to report the news, then that’s a dangerous place for America. And I think if that is the place that certain outlets are going, particularly for the purpose of spiking ratings, and if that’s coming directly from the top, I think that’s even more scary, and certainly more disgraceful. And I hope that that’s not the direction we’re headed. I hope that outlets that have continued to use either unnamed sources — sometimes stories with no sources at all — we’ve been going on this Russia-Trump hoax for the better part of a year now, with no evidence of anything. Things like the success at the VA barely get covered. They may get covered for an hour at a time, but this story gets covered day in, day out, and I think America is frankly looking for something better. They’re looking for something more. And I think they deserve something better from our news media.
Spiering: Does the president actually expect us not to report on stories of a foreign country trying to influence the presidential election.
Sanders: I don’t think it’s that it’s expected that you’re not to report on, again, actual news, if there’s something there. But again, I think that there are a lot of things happening in this world that, frankly, a lot of people would like to hear about. Whether it’s job growth, whether it’s deregulation, whether it’s tax reform, health care. I think a lot of those things deserve more coverage than they get. And all we’re saying is, you know, I think that we should take a really good look at what we are focused on, what we’re are covering, and making sure that it’s actually accurate and it’s honest. If we make the slightest mistake, the slightest word is off, it is just an absolute tirade from a lot of people in this room. But news outlets get to go on, day after day, and cite unnamed sources, use stories without sources, have — you mentioned Scaramucci story where they had to have reporters resign.
A reporter in the back complained that Sanders was “inflaming everybody right here, right now, with those words.”