Doubling down on his claim Friday that the so-called “fake news media” is the enemy of the American people, President Donald Trump accused reporters of drumming up fake sources.
The president, who proclaimed himself the greatest lover of the First Amendment — which protects freedom of speech — suggested the media ban the use of anonymous sources.
“I’m against the people that make up stories and make up sources. They shouldn’t be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody’s name,” Trump said in his remarks at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. “Let their name be put out there. Let their name be put out.”
His striking comments came shortly after senior administration officials — who notably didn’t offer their names on the record — vigorously pushed back against a CNN report to the White House press corps.
Trump himself didn’t directly reference CNN’s reporting, although he did deride the network as the “Clinton News Network.” It reported late Thursday that the FBI rebuffed a White House request to push back publicly on reports that the Trump campaign and associates had contacts with Russian officials during the presidential election.
“I want you all to know that we are fighting the fake news. It’s fake, phony, fake,” Trump said. “A few days ago, I called the fake news ‘the enemy of the people,’ and they are. They are the enemy of the people. Because they have no sources. They just make them up when there are none.”
The president alluded to a Washington Post report published earlier this month. Citing nine current and former officials, the Post reported that then-national security adviser Michael Flynn had discussed lifting sanctions against Russia with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. during the presidential transition, a revelation that eventually led to his resignation.
“There are no nine people. I don’t believe there was one or two people,” Trump said. He provided no evidence to refute the Post’s account but suggested he has insight because he knows the sources.
“Nine people,” he continued. “And I said, ‘Give me a break,’ because I know the people. I know who they talk to. There were no nine people. But they say nine people. And somebody reads it and they think, ‘Oh, nine people, they have nine sources.’ They make up sources. They’re very dishonest people.”