President Donald Trump’s rambling, off-the-cuff news conference on Thursday focused a lot on attacking the media, but it especially focused on attacking CNN, which Trump said was full of “anger and hatred” and “fake news” — largely because the cable news network had reported on Trump’s bizarre ties to Russia.
Shepard Smith, an anchor at rival media organization Fox News, was not having it. In a brief message to the president, Smith blasted Trump for his treatment of the media and specifically CNN reporters:
It’s crazy what we’re watching every day. It’s absolutely crazy. He keeps repeating ridiculous throwaway lines that are not true at all and sort of avoiding this issue of Russia as if we’re some kind of fools for asking the question. Really? Your opposition was hacked, and the Russians were responsible for it, and your people were on the phone with Russia on the same day it was happening, and we’re fools for asking the questions?
No, sir. We’re not fools for asking these questions. And we demand to know the answer to this question. You owe this to the American people. Your supporters will support you either way. If your people were on the phone with her, what were they saying? We have a right to know. We absolutely do.
And that you call us “fake news” and put us down like children for asking these questions on behalf of the American people is inconsequential. The people deserve that answer at very least.
For Trump, this moment has to sting a bit. Although he has criticized CNN, he has said that Fox News is friendly and “very nice” to him. For a Fox News anchor to go out of his way to slam Trump’s reactions to basic questions, then, might carry more weight for the president.
For more on Trump’s Russia scandals, read Zack Beauchamp’s explainer.