President Trump should be taken seriously in his claim that the media is "the enemy of the American people," White House chief of staff Reince PriebusReinhold (Reince) Richard PriebusWisconsin GOP quietly prepares Ron Johnson backup plans Ex-Sen. Cory Gardner joins lobbying firm Democrats claim vindication, GOP cries witch hunt as McGahn finally testifies MORE says.
“I think you should take it seriously,” Priebus said during an interview for CBS's "Face the Nation," when asked whether Trump's tweet about "fake news" media should be taken seriously.
“I think that the problem we've got is that we're talking about bogus stories like the one in The New York Times, that we've had constant contact with Russian officials," he continued.
“The next day, The Wall Street Journal had a story that the intel community was not giving the president a full intelligence briefing. Both stories grossly inaccurate, overstated, overblown, and it's total garbage.”
“So we spend, you know, 48 hours on bogus stories. And the American people suffer. So I do think it's a problem," Priebus added, saying the press in some cases "really needs to get its act together."
"The enemy?" CBS anchor John Dickerson pressed.
"If the theory is that the press is supposed to be a free forum of information to speak to the American people, I think it ought to be accurate," Priebus responded.
The White House official also called on reporters to stop using anonymous sources, something regularly relied upon for stories involving sensitive matters, including national security.
"I think that the media should stop with this unnamed source stuff, put names on a piece of paper and print it. If people aren't willing to put their name next to a quote, then the quote shouldn't be listed," Priebus said.
After the interview, Dickerson highlighted a tweet from Trump that included an unnamed source:
Anonymous sources. https://t.co/oIPuZGzkvA— John Dickerson (@jdickerson) February 19, 2017
Trump often dismisses news organizations as "dishonest media" and on Friday called "fake news" media the "enemy of the American People." Trump frequently refers to news stories he deems unfavorable as “fake news.”
Trump’s animosity toward the press came to a head on Thursday during a freewheeling news conference, where he railed against journalists for covering his administration critically and dismissed questions about his ties to Russia and the rise in anti-Semitic attacks in the U.S.
He also defended former national security adviser Michael Flynn, calling him “a wonderful man” who was treated “very, very unfairly by the media.” Flynn was asked to resign on Monday amid revelations he discussed sanctions with Russia’s ambassador and lied to Vice President Pence about the nature of those conversations.
Trump also said at the news conference that if Flynn hadn’t discussed sanctions, he would have instructed him to do so, though he claimed he had no part in directing the conversations.
Priebus echoed Trump’s position in the CBS interview, arguing that there is "nothing" inappropriate about a national security adviser discussing sanctions with a foreign diplomat, though Flynn's call with the Russian envoy came before Trump took office.
"There's nothing wrong with having a conversation about sanctions,” Priebus said. “And there's nothing wrong about having a conversation about the fact that the Obama administration put further sanctions in place and expelled some folks out of the United States.”
“There's nothing wrong with that topic coming up in a conversation,” he said.
Updated: 9:07 p.m.