Washington, United States | AFP | President Donald Trump defended his aggressive use of Twitter on Saturday just hours after firing off his latest volley in his escalating feud with US media.
Following an early morning Twitter tirade at CNN, NBC and a morning show host he taunted as “dumb as a rock,” the president then went on the defensive, touting his electoral accomplishments as justification for his increasingly hostile rhetoric.
“The FAKE & FRAUDULENT NEWS MEDIA is working hard to convince Republicans and others I should not use social media – but remember, I won the 2016 election with interviews, speeches and social media,” Trump said on Twitter.
“I had to beat #FakeNews, and did. We will continue to WIN!” he posted, before ending the day at a rally in Washington that included a similar anti-media barrage.
In recent days, the US leader has railed against major news organizations as “fake news,” and launched a crude personal attack on Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, who headline the “Morning Joe” program on the left-leaning MSNBC cable network.
“Crazy Joe Scarborough and dumb as a rock Mika are not bad people, but their low rated show is dominated by their NBC bosses. Too bad!” he wrote Saturday, seemingly trying to get in the final word in his clash with the journalists.
Apparently stung by critical coverage on the show, Trump on Thursday had tweeted: “I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore).
“Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe came to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!”
– Backlash –
The comments sparked a major backlash, as well as condemnation from within Trump’s own Republican Party.
The TV hosts responded on Friday with an opinion piece in The Washington Post titled “Donald Trump is not well,” questioning his “unmoored behavior” and fitness to serve.
Trump also targeted CNN, a frequent punching bag for the president.
“I am extremely pleased to see that @CNN has finally been exposed as #FakeNews and garbage journalism. It’s about time!” he tweeted, referring to an article that the cable news channel retracted, that claimed Congress was investigating links between Trump’s administration and a Russian investment fund.
Three CNN journalists resigned over the article, which was posted on the network’s website on June 22 before being yanked the next day.
“I am thinking about changing the name #FakeNews CNN to #FraudNewsCNN!” Trump posted.
He also suggested in a tweet that veteran ex-Fox journalist Greta Van Susteren, who left MSNBC this week, “was let go by her out of control bosses at @NBC & @Comcast because she refused to go along w/ ‘Trump hate!'”
– ‘Fight fire with fire’ –
Trump’s deputy spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Trump’s attacks on Brzezinski, Scarborough and other media were part of his natural instinct to “fight fire with fire.”
On Saturday, those instincts seemed to be on display.
“My use of social media is not Presidential – it’s MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL,” Trump posted on Twitter, before adding his classic tagline “Make America Great Again!”
Capping his day of derision, Trump lambasted the press at a Fourth of July “Freedom Rally” in Washington, stating that “the fake media tried to stop us from going to the White House, but I’m president and they’re not.”
“The dishonest media will never keep us from accomplishing our objectives on behalf of our great American people,” he added.
“The fact is, the press has destroyed themselves because they went too far.”