January 11, 2017

Donald Trump and his transition team used the president-elect’s first press conference to launch an all-out offensive against the media, calling outlets that published adversarial stories “fake news,” “disgusting” and “a failing pile of garbage.”

Sean Spicer, Trump’s spokesperson, kicked off the president-elect’s press conference with a full-throated denial of allegations of compromising personal and financial information alluded to by several major American news organizations.

Calling BuzzFeed “a left-wing blog,” Spicer dismissed the publication of a 35-page dossier that contained unverified allegations as a “sad and pathetic attempt to get clicks.” He dismissed a claim, included in the dossier, that Trump surrogate Michael Cohen met with Russian officials overseas to participate in some kind of hacking scheme.

BuzzFeed is a global news organization that employs hundreds of journalists around the world and published adversarial journalism regarding candidates on the left and right during the campaign.

A spokesperson for BuzzFeed told Poynter that BuzzFeed is standing by its decision to publish the dossier in full, citing Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith’s staff note advocating transparency in journalism as its primary justification.

Vice president-elect Mike Pence took the stage after Spicer departed and also took aim at the press. Calling himself a press freedom advocate, Pence charged that “some in the mainstream media” sought “to delegitimize this election.”

During his remarks, Trump took questions from reporters but got into a shouting match with CNN’s Jim Acosta after refusing to take his question.

“You are attacking our news organization, can you give us a chance to ask a question, sir?”

“You are fake news,” Trump responded.

Later during the press conference, Trump called BuzzFeed “a failing pile of garbage,” prompting reporters at the news organization to tweet photos mocking the accusation:

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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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