Trump ramps up ‘enemy of the people’ attack on media

Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein criticised for story related to Michael Cohen

US president Donald Trump: said veteran Washington Post journalist was “sloppy” and “a degenerate fool” being “laughed at all over the country”.  Photograph: Al Drago/Bloomberg

US president Donald Trump: said veteran Washington Post journalist was “sloppy” and “a degenerate fool” being “laughed at all over the country”. Photograph: Al Drago/Bloomberg

 

US president Donald Trump intensified his attacks on the media on Thursday, singling out veteran reporter Carl Bernstein for a story related to his former aide, Michael Cohen.

In a series of tweets, the president repeated his description of the media as the “enemy of the people”.

“I just cannot state strongly enough how totally dishonest much of the media is. Truth doesn’t matter to them, they only have their hatred & agenda. This includes fake books, which come out about me all the time, always anonymous sources, and are pure fiction. Enemy of the People!”

In particular he took aim at Mr Bernstein, the Washington Post journalist who broke the Watergate story during the Nixon administration, denouncing him as “sloppy” and “a degenerate fool” who he said is being “laughed at all over the country”.

Controversy has emerged in recent days over a story carried by CNN in July and co-written by Mr Bernstein which claimed that Mr Cohen believed Mr Trump knew in advance about a controversial meeting in Trump Tower in June 2016 between members of his campaign team and Russian individuals.

In recent days, Mr Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, has said he was the source for the story and that he had mis-spoken.

But CNN and Mr Bernstein have stood by their story.

Free press

In a tweet addressed to the US president, the veteran reporter hit back: “I have spent my life as a journalist bringing the truth to light, through administrations of both parties. No taunt will diminish my commitment to that mission, which is the essential role of a free press. @CNN stands by its story, and I stand by my reporting.”

Mr Trump’s attacks on the media emerged as he railed against press coverage of the departure of White House counsel Don McGahn. The president announced on Twitter on Wednesday that Mr McGahn, a key figure in the Trump administration who has led the president’s approach to the Mueller investigation, would be leaving after the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. His exit marks the latest high-profile departure from the Trump White House. Reports earlier this month claimed Mr McGahn had given over 30 hours of interviews to special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.

Mr Trump, who departed Washington on Thursday afternoon for a rally in Indiana, hit out at media reports of Mr McGahn’s departure. He tweeted: “The Rigged Russia Witch Hunt did not come into play, even a little bit, with respect to my decision on Don McGahn!” adding that he was “very excited” about the person who would be taking his place.