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.”
The apparent contradiction did not go unnoticed by reporters at the conference, who tweeted about the seemingly incongruous series of events:
Trump just said press "shouldn't be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody's name." YOUR SENIOR AIDES SPUN US ON BACKGROUND TODAY.
— Eric Geller (@ericgeller) February 24, 2017
Trump, who spoke to reporters off the record all the time — and reportedly posed as his own PR man — decrying use of unnamed "sources"
— Glenn Thrush (@GlennThrush) February 24, 2017
Trump, who for years called NYC gossip pages on background, says people should put their names to their information.
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) February 24, 2017
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:
Just as Trump finishes at CPAC, WaPo Executive Editor Marty Baron releases statement standing by nine-source story: pic.twitter.com/iS1Gar0PIe
— ErikWemple (@ErikWemple) February 24, 2017
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.
bad press "doesn't bother me" – donald j trump
— Jonathan Martin (@jmartNYT) February 24, 2017
The speech was, in the view of one observer, an attempt to stem the tide of leaks emanating from the White House.
By demanding on record sources about him at CPAC, Trump is explicitly attempting to stamp out leaks.
— Michael Barbaro (@mikiebarb) February 24, 2017