February 24, 2017

Donald Trump delivered a vehement and sometimes contradictory screed against the press during his appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference Friday, calling media reports “fake news” while expressing his support for the First Amendment.

During the speech, which came on the penultimate day of the CPAC conference, Trump was especially critical of news organizations that use anonymous sources, saying that reporters “shouldn’t be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody’s name.”

He also doubled down on his assertion, made on Twitter a week ago, that journalists are the “enemy of the people” but clarified that he was only referring to “fake media.”

Trump’s tirade against anonymous sources came the same morning that his aides requested anonymity to push back against a CNN report in a background briefing with reporters.

The apparent contradiction did not go unnoticed by reporters at the conference, who tweeted about the seemingly incongruous series of events:

During the speech, which one New York Times reporter called “day 2 of the war on the media,” Trump also pushed back against a Washington Post story based on nine anonymous sources who said National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had contact with Russia during the presidential transition.

Trump fired Flynn after the story was published. After Trump’s speech ended, Washington Post Editor Marty Baron released a statement defending its reporting:

As the speech went on, Trump professed his affinity for the First Amendment (“who uses it more than I do?“) and said “they” always invoke its legal protections.

The speech was, in the view of one observer, an attempt to stem the tide of leaks emanating from the White House.

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Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism…
Benjamin Mullin

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