Trump lashes out at CNN, NBC in sustained media attacks

President TrumpDonald John TrumpGrassley: Dems 'withheld information' on new Kavanaugh allegation Health advocates decry funding transfer over migrant children Groups plan mass walkout in support of Kavanaugh accuser MORE this week launched a series of sustained attacks on news organizations, with the latest round focusing on prominent executives at CNN and NBC.

The president has referenced "fake news" or attacked the media in a dozen tweets in the course of the past week, singling out specific outlets and reporters on multiple occasions.

ADVERTISEMENT

Thursday's comments from Trump mark the latest sign of an increasingly fraught relationship between the White House and the press.

"I just cannot state strongly enough how totally dishonest much of the Media is. Truth doesn’t matter to them, they only have their hatred & agenda," Trump tweeted Thursday morning.

"This includes fake books, which come out about me all the time, always anonymous sources, and are pure fiction," he continued. "Enemy of the People!"

Trump has turned to a familiar foe, lashing out at reporting on his administration as he deals with the fallout of two former associates being implicated in court and criticism for his handling of the death of Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTrump hits McCain on ObamaCare vote GOP, White House start playing midterm blame game Arizona race becomes Senate GOP’s ‘firewall’ MORE (R-Ariz.).

The White House has not held a press briefing for reporters since Aug. 22, the day after former Trump attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty and former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortDem warns Trump: 'Obstruction of justice' to fire Rosenstein Ex-White House official revises statement to Mueller after Flynn guilty plea: report Former White House lawyer sought to pay Manafort, Gates legal fees: report MORE was convicted on bank fraud and tax fraud charges.

The president has briefly answered questions during events open to a small number of reporters in the time since, but has ignored shouted questions about McCain's death and other topics.

During one such availability, he mimed giving a red card to the press to "kick them out" of the Oval Office during a meeting with FIFA and U.S. Soccer officials.

The president on Thursday took aim at two news organizations he has been relentlessly critical of: CNN and NBC. He said top executives the networks should lose their jobs.

"The hatred and extreme bias of me by @CNN has clouded their thinking and made them unable to function. But actually, as I have always said, this has been going on for a long time," Trump tweeted. "Little Jeff Z has done a terrible job, his ratings suck, & AT&T should fire him to save credibility!"

Trump and CNN President Jeff Zucker have a professional history; Zucker was in charge of NBC Entertainment when Trump hosted "The Apprentice." Their relationship has soured as Trump frequently blasts CNN as "fake news" and attacks its reporting.

The president in recent days has seized on an admission from Lanny Davis, the attorney for Cohen, that he was an anonymous source for a CNN story that suggested the president had advance knowledge of the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with campaign associates and a Russian lawyer.

Davis has since acknowledged he's unsure of the veracity of the assertion that Trump was aware of the meeting beforehand.

"CNN is being torn apart from within based on their being caught in a major lie and refusing to admit the mistake," Trump tweeted Wednesday night.

He also criticized Carl Bernstein, who shared a byline on the CNN report, as "a man who lives in the past and thinks like a degenerate fool."

Bernstein is best known for his Watergate coverage with Bob Woodward in the 1970s that led to the resignation of President Nixon.

Woodward is set to release a book on Sept. 11 detailing the inner workings of the Trump White House. The book is based on “hundreds of hours of interviews with firsthand sources, meeting notes, personal diaries, files and documents," according to the publisher.

CNN and Bernstein have stood by their reporting, maintaining that the story is still accurate and that they had multiple sources, not just Davis, for their story.

"What’s going on at @CNN is happening, to different degrees, at other networks - with @NBCNews being the worst," Trump tweeted, before turning his attention to NBC News Chairman Andrew Lack.

He suggested Lack will soon be fired for "incompetence, and much worse." Trump alleged without evidence that the network "fudged" the tape of an interview with Lester Holt in May 2017, during which Trump said he fired ex-FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyRosenstein report gives GOP new ammo against DOJ Gowdy: Declassified documents unlikely to change anyone's mind on Russia investigation Pompeo on Rosenstein bombshell: Maybe you just ought to find something else to do if you can't be on the team MORE over the bureau's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Shortly after Trump's tweet, NBC News's Twitter account shared a link to Holt's extended interview with Trump.

The president's focus on CNN and NBC executives came amid a broader string of attacks on reporting about his administration, particularly related to the upcoming departure of White House counsel Don McGahn. Trump announced via Twitter on Wednesday that McGahn will leave his post after the expected confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Trump blasted a New York Times report that friction between McGahn and Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpHard choices in training Americans for AI workplace of future Ex-Trump, progressive strategists battle over charges of anti-Semitism surrounding Eric Trump Ethics watchdog requests probe into Trump officials traveling to campaign events MORE and Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerMueller investigating Russian payments made by Trump Tower meeting organizers: report The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh confirmation in sudden turmoil Manafort’s plea deal — the clear winners and losers MORE played a role in the White House counsel's departure. He also disputed that his administration is rife with conflict, despite high-level turnover since he took office.

"The Fake News Media has it, purposely,so wrong!" Trump tweeted. "They love to portray chaos in the White House when they know that chaos doesn’t exist-just a 'smooth running machine' with changing parts!"

Trump also referenced "fake reporting and fake news" in a tweet in which he denied that McGahn was responsible for stopping the president from firing special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE or Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump distances himself from Rosenstein by saying Sessions hired him Gowdy: Declassified documents unlikely to change anyone's mind on Russia investigation Pompeo on Rosenstein bombshell: Maybe you just ought to find something else to do if you can't be on the team MORE.

The tweet appeared to imply that the matter had been discussed within the White House, as reported by The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Trump frequently blasts negative coverage as "fake news," and has in recent months taken to labeling journalists the "enemy of the people." He has in the past directed his criticism at specific stories and reporters from The New York Times and The Washington Post.

And the media criticism isn't just coming from Trump.

Vice President Pence, who has largely refrained from publicly attacking the press, said in an interview taped Wednesday that "liberals in the national media" had "met their match" in Trump when asked by Christian Broadcast Network's David Brody whether the combative nature of the press works in the president's favor.

The president on Thursday also referred to "fake books" about his administration. The remark comes not long after the publication of a book authored by former staffer Omarosa Manigault NewmanOmarosa Onee Manigault NewmanSales of political books up 25 percent in 2018: report Woodward book breaks 93-year publishing record Stormy Daniels announces new tell-all book: 'Full Disclosure' MORE, who was highly critical of Trump and the White House. She has produced audio recordings to support some but not all of her book's assertions.