White House trade adviser Peter Navarro escalated President Donald Trump’s attacks on the news media Sunday morning, characterizing The Washington Post as “fake news most of the time.”
Speaking with host Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Navarro brushed off a Washington Post story from Saturday that described turmoil in the White House. He specifically denied the newspaper’s report that White House chief of staff John Kelly is threatening to resign.
“Every day of his adult life,” Navarro said, “John Kelly’s gotten up in the morning to serve America. He’s a great man, a courageous man –– he serves the president, he has the president’s ear, he runs the West Wing well. That’s all I know, that’s all I see.”
He added, “When you read stuff in The Washington Post, frankly, that’s fake news most of the time.”
Todd pushed back, calling Navarro’s comment a “cheap shot.”
“I think that expression is a pretty unfair thing to say about a major news organization,” Todd said.
“Mr. Todd, that is not a cheap shot,” Navarro replied. “Because if you look at the newspapers that I read every day across the spectrum, The Washington Post, in my judgment, tends to attack the president more than any other newspaper in its news stories. You can do anything you want in your editorials, sir, but you cannot do that in your news stories.”
Todd interrupted him: “The term ‘fake news’ is not exactly a way to hold up the First Amendment, especially when the Russian government, just this morning, is using that phrase.”
While Trump claims to have coined the term “fake news,” Vox reports that the strategy of using fake news to disorient and manipulate voters was pioneered by the Russian government in the 1990s and 2000s.
A federal grand jury in February indicted 13 Russians and three Russian entities, charging that they interfered in the 2016 election to boost Trump’s candidacy by posing as Americans and creating fake social media accounts to spread propaganda.
Trump has frequently invoked “fake news” to attack mainstream media coverage he doesn’t like. He tweeted Sunday morning that The Washington Post is “garbage” and “more fiction than fact.”
New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet defended the Washington Post on CNN Sunday morning, noting that every deeply reported story about turmoil in the White House by the paper or the Times so far has been “verified.”
“If [Trump] creates a culture where ‘Fox and Friends’ and Jesse Watters are regarded as ‘serious journalism,’ and the New York Times and Washington Post are not, he will have done longstanding, harmful effect on the country,” Baquet said.
He added, “It’s out of control, and his advisers should tell him to stop, because it’s actually affecting the civic life and debate of this country.”