Donald Trump’s press conference on Wednesday got heated quickly, as the president-elect bashed, and also praised, specific media members, defended comparisons he made on Twitter to Nazi Germany and called BuzzFeed a “failing pile of garbage.”
During his first press conference in 167 days, the president-elect suggested that the unverified Russian dossier was leaked to the press “maybe by the intelligence agencies, who knows, but maybe the intelligence agencies, which would be a tremendous blot if they did that…because it never should have been written and certainly never should have been released.”
Trump also thanked members of the media who criticized the publishing of the report, which was first reported by CNN and later published in full by BuzzFeed.
The dossier, which was compiled by an individual claiming to be a British intelligence official and which has still not been verified, alleges that the Russian government is withholding damaging financial and personal information about the president-elect.
A reporter asked Trump about a tweet he sent on Wednesday morning responding to the intelligence community allowing the dossier with “golden shower” claims to end up in the hands of media members. In the Twitter message, Trump asked if we are living in Nazi Germany.
He doubled down on the comparison during the combative press conference. “I think it’s a disgrace. And I say that, and I say that. And as something that Nazi Germany would have done — and they do,” Trump said.
At one point Trump said, “Some of the media outlets I deal with are fake news, more so than anybody, I won’t name them… a few sitting right in front of us… I’ve seen people absolutely destroyed and I think it’s very unfair, so all I can ask for is honest reporters.”
When CNN’s Jim Acosta tried to ask a question, the president-elect decided it was time to name names, pointing at Acosta saying, “You are fake news.”
A CNN spokesperson issued the following statement to TheWrap when the press conference concluded: “CNN’s decision to publish carefully sourced reporting about the operations of our government is vastly different than Buzzfeed’s decision to publish unsubstantiated memos. The Trump team knows this. They are using Buzzfeed’s decision to deflect from CNN’s reporting, which has been matched by the other major news organizations. We are fully confident in our reporting. It represents the core of what the First Amendment protects, informing the people of the inner workings of their government; in this case, briefing materials prepared for President Obama and President-elect Trump last week. We made it clear that we were not publishing any of the details of the 35-page document because we have not corroborated the report’s allegations. Given that members of the Trump transition team have so vocally criticized our reporting, we encourage them to identify, specifically, what they believe to be inaccurate.”
Trump also explained why he went so long without holding a press conference, as he has only spoken through Twitter and brief sound bites since defeating Hillary Clinton.
“We stopped giving them [press conferences] because we were getting quite a bit of inaccurate news,” he said before praising members of the media who didn’t run with the BuzzFeed dossier report.
“I want to thank a lot of the news organizations here today… Because a thing like that should have never been written — it should never have been had, it should certainly have never been released. But I want to thank a lot of the news organizations,” Trump said. “A couple in particular — and they came out so strongly against that fake news and the fact that it was written about by primarily one group and one television station. So I just want to complement many of the people in the room, I have great respect for the news and great respect for freedom of the press and all of that.”
He continued: “But I will tell you, there were some news organizations with all that was just said that were so professional, so incredibly professional. That — I’ve just gone up a notch as to what I think of you. Okay? All right.”
Most of Trump’s top advisers, including Vice President-elect Mike Pence, Sean Spicer, Jared Kushner, Kellyanne Conway and Steve Bannon were in attendance, along with the adult Trump children.
Incoming Press Secretary Spicer started off the event by blasting BuzzFeed and Pence went next, ripping the mainstream media for trying to delegitimize the election results before introducing Trump.