Reince Priebus did the rounds on the morning shows Sunday and affirmed President Trump’s controversial tweet that the news media are the enemy of the American people.
Speaking on the CBS show “Face the Nation,” the White House chief of staff said that the president meant it when he called the media the enemy in a Friday tweet.
“I think you should take it seriously,” Priebus told CBS’ John Dickerson. “I think the problem we’ve got is that we’re talking about bogus stories… And I think the media needs to — in some cases, not every case, but in some cases — really needs to get its act together.”
Priebus criticized news outlets that rely on anonymous sources, pointing to two recent stories that he found especially problematic. The first was a story by the New York Times that said Trump aides were in repeated contact with Russia in the year prior to the election.
The second story, by the Wall Street Journal, said intelligence officials were withholding information from Trump because they were concerned it could be leaked. Both stories relied on anonymous sourcing from current and former intelligence officials.
Dickerson asked Priebus whether the administration was fostering conspiracy around the media to shield itself from potentially damaging stories, such as the allegations of communication between Trump’s team and Russian officials.
“I mean, you’re talking about people that you’re not naming, and whether or not some things need to be improved,” Priebus replied. “What things? What people? What are you referring to? Give me a specific question with a specific purpose [or] accusation, and I’ll answer the question.”
Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday” also fiercely hammered Priebus over Trump’s tweets, asserting that the president “crosses a line when he talks about that we’re an enemy of people.” “That is concerning,” Wallace said.
“I don’t know why you’re so hot in here,” Priebus replied. “You’re going bananas here, Chris. It’s ridiculous.”
Meanwhile, Arizona Sen. John McCain’s comments on NBC’s “Meet the Press“ have garnered a lot of attention. “If you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press,” McCain said. “Without it, I am afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That’s how dictators started.”
McCain clarified that he wasn’t accusing Trump of being a dictator but rather looking at historical context: “[Dictators] get started by suppressing free press. In other words, a consolidation of power when you look at history, the first thing that dictators do is shut down the press. And I’m not saying that President Trump is trying to be a dictator. I’m just saying we need to learn the lessons of history.”