Trump goes after 'nasty' WaPost reporters, suggests they be barred from White House

President TrumpDonald John TrumpRouhani says Iran will never seek nuclear weapons Trump downplays seriousness of injuries in Iran attack after US soldiers treated for concussions Trump says Bloomberg is 'wasting his money' on 2020 campaign MORE lashed out at a pair of Washington Post reporters early Saturday, ratcheting up the White House's feud with the journalists over their coverage of the Trump administration.

Trump went after the Post's Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker in a tweet, calling them "two nasty lightweight reporters" and suggesting they be barred from the White House grounds.

The president wrote that the reporters "shouldn’t even be allowed on the grounds of the White House because their reporting is so DISGUSTING & FAKE."

The White House didn't immediately respond to a request for further information.

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Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron later defended the reporters, calling them "superb journalists" and saying they "have consistently demonstrated their integrity in covering the White House."

“We stand fully behind them and their important work," Baron said in a statement.

"The president’s statement fits into a pattern of seeking to denigrate and intimidate the press. It’s unwarranted and dangerous, and it represents a threat to a free press in this country,” he added.

Trump's tweets came two days after a pair of top White House officials penned an op-ed in the Washington Examiner criticizing the Post for a Sept. 1 article describing "what some Trump advisers and allies characterize as a lost summer defined by self-inflicted controversies and squandered opportunities."

Stephanie GrishamStephanie GrishamTrump's split-screen presidency takes stark form in impeachment Trump boasts of US economic gains in Davos as impeachment trial gets underway Parnas attorney asks William Barr to recuse himself from investigation MORE and Hogan Gidley, the White House press secretary and deputy press secretary, respectively, wrote that the Post refused to cite the majority of Trump’s accomplishments from a list of 26 that was provided.

The White House officials accused Rucker and Parker of having “pushed their own personal political narrative that President Trump had a ‘lost summer’ of squandered opportunities and few accomplishments.”

They specifically cited Trump's historic meeting with Kim Jong UnKim Jong UnNorth Korea replaces its foreign minister: report Brent Budowsky: The patriotic duty of Senate Republicans US ambassador: 'I was personally surprised' North Korea did not send 'Christmas gift' MORE in North Korea as well as his push for a trade deal with Japan as examples that the reporters did not include.

“The truth is, Trump racked up many well-documented victories that directly benefited the American people at home and abroad,” Grisham and Gidley wrote. 

“Media bias comes in two forms. It plays a role in deciding what news is, and is not, covered, and also in deciding how that news is covered. In this instance, the Post's ‘reporters’ are guilty of both.”

The Post defended its coverage in a statement to The Hill on Friday.

"Our story prominently noted the White House’s list of accomplishments and quoted a White House spokesman at length. It also reported the views of Republicans, both on the record and on background, some of whom are part of the administration and some who watch its performance from a distance," said Shani George, the Post's director of communications.

"Readers can judge for themselves whether our account fairly represented a variety of perspectives on the President’s summer," she added.

The White House is known to have a bitter relationship with several mainstream media outlets, though the Post has emerged as one of the top targets of the president, who often refers to the paper as the “Amazon Washington Post,” a reference to the paper’s owner, Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosSaudi Arabia calls for probe into 'absurd' reports of Bezos phone hacking Hillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — Apple reportedly dropped plans to let iPhone users encrypt backups | Justices decline facial recognition case | Critics fear Facebook losing misinformation fight | Truce on French tech tax Message from Saudi crown prince linked to hack of Bezos's phone: report MORE, the founder and CEO of Amazon. 

Trump's tweets Saturday prompted immediate pushback from journalists, including a number of Post employees, who defended the reporters:

The White House has moved in the past to suspend press credentials for certain media members following clashes with the administration.

In August, the administration said it would suspend Playboy White House correspondent Brian Karem's press credentials for a month, citing his conduct during a July Rose Garden event in when he clashed with with Trump supporters who attended a White House social media summit. Karem has sued to restore his credentials.

Last year, the White House also revoked CNN reporter Jim AcostaJames (Jim) AcostaCNN hires former longtime CNBC correspondent John Harwood Martha McSally fundraises off 'liberal hack' remark to CNN reporter Trump campaign exploits Bloomberg News blunder MORE's credentials after he made contact with an intern while attempting to hold on to a microphone to ask Trump a question during an event. A judge later ordered the White House to to restore Acosta's credentials.

Updated: 1:23 p.m.