The White House revoked easy access for a CNN reporter and the network sued. A court order restored the pass, but the case is moving forward. Have presidents tried this before?
WASHINGTON – Fox News host Chris Wallace went after President Donald Trump for his attacks on the news media in an interview that aired Sunday, telling the president he is "seen around the world as a beacon for repression" because of his rhetoric.
The "Fox News Sunday" host told Trump that while other presidents expressed frustration with the news media, none had gone as far as Trump, who called them "the enemy of the American people."
"Barack Obama whined about Fox News all the time but he never said we were the enemy of the people," Wallace said.
Trump said "nobody believes in the First Amendment more than I do" and attempted to clarify that he did not believe all media is the "enemy," but only outlets which he considers "fake news."
"But a lot of times, sir, it's just news you do not like," Wallace replied. And he told the president that "leaders in authoritarian countries like Russia, China, Venezuela, now repress the media using your words."
"I can not talk for other people, I can only talk for me," Trump replied.
"But you're seen around the world as a beacon for repression," Wallace said.
Trump again tried to explain that his attacks on the media were only aimed at coverage he says is false and unfair.
Wallace told Trump that the president does not "get to decide what's fair and what's not."
"I can tell what's fair and not and so can my people and so can a lot of other people," Trump replied.
Wallace said he is on record as saying that he thinks some news coverage of Trump is biased. But he refused to accept Trump's distinction between "fake news" and the media as a whole, even as Trump explained to Wallace, "I'm not calling you that."
"We're all together," Wallace told the president, explaining it did not matter if he was referring to CNN, The New York Times or Fox News. "We're in solidarity, sir."
Fox News joined other media outlets in filing briefs in support of CNN's lawsuit demanding the return of correspondent Jim Acosta's White House credentials, which were revoked after a heated exchange with the president. A federal judge on Friday ordered Acosta's credentials be returned.
"It's fine, I mean it's not a big deal," Trump said of the judge's ruling. He said his administration is now creating a clear list of rules for reporters to follow during White House news conferences.
"And if he misbehaves, we'll throw him out or we'll stop the news conference," Trump said.
The president said he is also considering having the White House news briefings be held off camera. "Although I'll probably be sued for that," he added.
At one point in the interview, Wallace asked Trump about the criticism from retired Navy Admiral William McRaven – a former SEAL who led the operations that hunted down Saddam Hussein and killed Osama bin Laden – who has called Trump's attacks on the press "perhaps the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime. "
Trump dismissed McRaven as a "Hillary Clinton fan" and an "Obama-backer," and implied bin Laden should have been caught sooner.
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