President Donald Trump announced Alexander Acosta as his choice for Labor Secretary during a wild news conference Thursday afternoon where he also said he “inherited a mess” at home and abroad. He also turned his attention, of course, to the media.
“The press has become so dishonest, that if we don’t talk about it, we are doing a tremendous disservice to the American people,” Trump said. “The press, honestly, is out of control. The level of dishonesty is out of control.”
After a 24-minute opening statement that included quotes such as, “Drugs are becoming cheaper than candy bars,” Trump took questions from reporters, who he accused to their faces of pushing “fake news.”
Trump said both the leakers of government information and the reporters who print it “should be ashamed.” The president called a recent New York Times story “a joke” and claimed it has been discredited.
Trump also mocked the Wall Street Journal, saying it is almost as disgraceful as the Times.
“I don’t mind bad stories. I can handle a bad story better than anybody, as long as it’s true,” Trump said. “I’m not OK when it is fake. I watch CNN and it’s so much anger and hatred.”
Trump then said he doesn’t watch CNN anymore and took credit for a recent spike in cable news ratings.
There was one upside for reporters: Trump called on a variety of news outlets. On Wednesday, CNN’s Jim Acosta said “the fix is in” after Trump only called on conservative news organizations during a news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
During Thursday’s press conference, Trump repeatedly pointed at Acosta and promised to eventually call on him. Once he did, the CNN reporter said, “Just for the record, we don’t hate you.”
“Ask Jeff Zucker how he got his job,” Trump said, referring to the CNN Worldwide president who used to oversee Trump’s “Apprentice” reality show.
Acosta and Trump then argued over CNN’s ratings.
“We do have other people and your ratings aren’t as good as some who are waiting,” the president said.
Acosta eventually asked about WikiLeaks, comparing Trump getting upset over the leaking of highly classified information to him encouraging leaking emails related to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
At one point, Trump openly searched for a “friendly reporter” after he was tired of answering questions about his relationship with Russia. He’s not just angry at the Times, WSJ and CNN. When a BBC reporter tried to ask a question, Trump said, “There is another beauty.”
Trump went on to call “Fox & Friends” the “most honest morning show,” while saying the tone of CNN is “almost exclusive anti-Trump.” He even said he was going to start referring to CNN as “very fake news” and joked that he made sure Alexander Acosta wasn’t related to the CNN reporter.
Several prominent media personalities weighed in on Twitter: