NORTH CHARLESTON, SC – FEBRUARY 17: U.S. President Donald Trump addresses a crowd during the debut event for the Dreamliner 787-10 at Boeing’s South Carolina facilities on February 17, 2017 in North Charleston, South Carolina. The airplane begins flight testing later this year and will be delivered to airline customers starting in 2018. Sean Rayford/Getty Images/AFP
Sean Rayford / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP
Donald Trump ratcheted up his attacks on the media Friday, blasting the press as “the enemy of the American people!”
Shortly after landing at his holiday home in Mar-a-Lago, Florida — where he is spending a third consecutive weekend — the president lashed out in 140 characters.
“The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Trump had tweeted an earlier post which targeted the New York Times, CNN, NBC “and many more” media — and ended with the exclamation “SICK!”
But he swiftly deleted that missive before reposting the definitive version — adding two more “enemies” to his blacklist.
The 70-year-old Trump built his campaign on criticizing the press as biased. In addition to regularly accusing the media of overstating his setbacks, he has also accused journalists of failing to show sufficient respect for his accomplishments.
On Thursday, he launched a long diatribe at a grievance-filled news conference, in which he blamed the media for his one-month-old administration’s problems.
In four weeks, Trump has seen his national security advisor ousted, a cabinet nominee withdraw, a centerpiece immigration policy fail in the courts and a tidal wave of damaging leaks.
Many US presidents have criticized the press, but Trump’s language has more closely echoed remarks leveled by authoritarian leaders around the world.
His comments had some observers declaring that the Republican was veering dangerously close to infringing on the constitutionally protected freedom of the press.
“I love that part of the 1st Amendment that declares the press the enemy of the American people,” conservative commentator S.E. Cupps wrote on Twitter, adding the hashtag “TrumpsAmerica.”
Ben Rhodes, a top advisor to former president Barack Obama, called Trump’s criticism of the media “a gift to authoritarians everywhere — will discredit any US efforts to support freedom of the press globally.”
Many reporters were taken aback by Thursday’s press conference, described by some as bizarre, but Trump echoed the words of praise he got from one rightwing commentator and insisted the outing had been a bravura performance.
“‘One of the most effective press conferences I’ve ever seen!’ says Rush Limbaugh. Many agree. Yet FAKE MEDIA calls it differently! Dishonest,” Trump wrote on Twitter about an hour after the earlier tweet.
Trump declared during the news conference: “Much of the media in Washington, DC — along with New York, Los Angeles, in particular — speaks not for the people but for the special interests and for those profiting off a very, very obviously broken system.
“The press has become so dishonest that if we don’t talk about, we are doing a tremendous disservice to the American people. Tremendous disservice. We have to talk to find out what’s going on, because the press honestly is out of control. The level of dishonesty is out of control.”
Trump’s campaign website and the Republican Party on Thursday posted a “Mainstream Media Accountability Survey,” asking respondents questions such as: “On which issues does the mainstream media do the worst job of representing Republicans?”
It also asks whether the GOP should spend “more time and resources” holding the media accountable.
It’s not known what it will take — or if it’s even possible — for Trump to plug the leaks in his administration, but an ally on Capitol Hill stepped in Friday to help.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes has asked the FBI to investigate the leaks, Politico reported, citing three sources familiar with his request.