Donald Trump offered a vigorous defense of his decision to call media “the enemy of the people,” saying it was his only way to respond to criticism he receives from the national press.
“I have to fight back,” Trump told Axios co-founder Jim VandeHei, adding that his supporters “like [him] more because of that.”
VandeHei offered the frequently heard retort from media figures who say the rhetoric from the world’s most powerful person was bound to get somebody hurt.
“What scares the crap out of me is that if you’re saying ‘enemy of the people, enemy of the people’ … what happens if all of a sudden someone gets shot? Somebody shoots one of these reporters?” he said. “Don’t you worry at all?”
Trump has been informed of this issue in the past — most notably by New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger — but appeared relaxed as VandeHei warned of the dire consequences.
In tweets and on the campaign trail, Trump has referred to journalists as the “enemy of the people.” The president has insisted he reserves the term — which many have noted has dark authoritarian origins — for “dishonest” or “fake news” media. He generally has not labeled Fox News journalists with the moniker.
Trump’s interview with Axios made news earlier this week when the president insisted that he would revoke birthright citizenship via executive order. Many legal scholars were dubious noting the ironclad language of the 14th amendment. The website took heat for allowing the president to falsely claim that no other country allowed birthright citizenship when in facts there are dozens.