During his first major news conference as president-elect, Donald Trump co-opted a phrase used against him, “fake news,” and slammed an entire news organization in the process.
Thursday marks the first anniversary of the raucous media conference at Trump Tower where the former reality TV star lobbed one of his most memorable insults at CNN’s White House correspondent Jim Acosta.
Trump criticized a CNN report about the now-infamous dossier alleging collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. CNN’s report, Trump said during the briefing, alleged that Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen had met with Russians in Prague during the campaign, but in fact he had never left the country.
“Sir, since you’re attacking us, can you give us a question?” Acosta said, but Trump ignored him and called on another reporter. Acosta continued to interrupt and Trump attempted to take questions from someone else.
“No, I’m not going to give you a question,” Trump said. “I’m not going to give you a question. You are fake news.”
“Mr. President-elect, that’s not appropriate,” Acosta said as some around the room cheered and applauded the put-down.
The dossier, which CNN reported on but did not publish, was released by BuzzFeed News (which Trump called “a steaming pile of garbage” during the conference) in full and has continued to plague both news agencies as none of its claims have been verified.
A year later, the White House’s battles with the media and particularly CNN have only escalated, and the term fake news — first coined to explain the dearth of hoax stories that must have propelled a celebrity entertainer ahead of supposed front-runner former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — became one of Trump’s most effective cudgels against what he considers biased reporting.
BuzzFeed news media editor Craig Silverman says he helped popularize the term fake news years ago, well before Trump entered politics, but now cringes when he hears the term. Silverman says he used the term to research fringe websites that wrote objectively false stories to attract clicks and ad revenue, and that he never expected the term to become so partisan.
After the 2016 election, “shocked U.S. Democrats, looking for explanations, adopted the concept as an easy answer to the puzzle of Donald Trump’s election,” Silverman wrote in December. “And in response, Trump and his supporters saw the term as a threat and an insult — and a weapon.”
Trump continues to use the term fake news to point out willful bias in reporting, and CNN has repeatedly flubbed multiple high-profile stories about the White House.
The Trump team even has a pending award for the most egregious example of false and biased reporting from a mainstream outlet. The Fake News Awards were supposed to be announced Jan. 8, but were delayed to Jan. 17 because of the unexpected interest.
“The interest in, and importance of, these awards is far greater than anyone could have anticipated!” Trump tweeted Sunday.
Acosta took the occasion of the first anniversary of that initial news conference to thank people who gave him “kind words” and praise his colleagues for their work, concluding with the hashtag “realnews.”
A version of this article appeared on The Daily Caller News Foundation website.
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