The first of only two questions President Donald Trump took during his press conference in Warsaw, Poland on Thursday came from The Daily Mail’s David Martosko, a man once widely assumed to be the frontrunner for his administration’s communications director position.
It was a two-part question, but Trump decided to take the second part—concerning the video meme he posted to Twitter of him wrestling with the CNN logo—first.
The president took the golden opportunity to declared that CNN has “been fake news for a long time,” adding, “They've been covering me in a very, very dishonest way.” He called NBC “equally as bad, despite the fact that I made them a fortune with The Apprentice, but they forgot that.”
“What we want to see in the United States is honest, beautiful, free but honest press. We want to see fair press. I think it's a very important thing. We don't want fake news. And by the way, not everybody is fake news. But we don't want fake news.”
CNN did not take kindly to Trump’s assertions.
“It's just customary that the United States president or any head of state, when they go abroad, they're trying to put the best face on their own country,” Chris Cuomo said on CNN’s New Day following the president’s remarks. “They're trying to be boastful. That's not what we saw this morning.”
But it was White House correspondent Jim Acosta, who was on the ground in Warsaw and has been one of the Trump administration’s fiercest critics on CNN when it comes to his war with the free press, who had an even stronger reaction to the president’s words.
“Unfortunately, this was not a surprise at all that the president would take the first question from an American reporter during his foreign trip here and that it would be from the friendly news media — a friendly reporter who teed up a question about CNN,” Acosta said. “For the president to then go off on CNN about fake news, to me just made this spectacle feel like a fake news conference. This was not an attempt by the president to seek out a question from somebody who was going to challenge him on the issues.
While Acosta called Martosko a “good guy,” he said, “In this instance, I think the conservative news media was being used here. And I do think that's unfortunate.”
Acosta proceeded to debunk a series of facts that Trump simply got wrong during his remarks, including the assertion that President Obama “did nothing” about Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election. “President Obama talked to Vladimir Putin at a G-20 summit in September about all of this,” he said. “To say otherwise is fake news.”
“The other thing that was fake news coming from President Trump, was when he said, well, I keep hearing it's 17 intelligence agencies that say Russia meddled in the election, I think it's only three or four,” Acosta added of Trump continued denials about who was behind the cyber attacks. “Where does that number come from? My suspicion is if we go to the administration and ask them for this question, I'm not so sure we're going to get an answer. And if we do get an answer, it will probably be off-camera.”