In Sarah Huckabee Sanders’s first press briefing in nearly a month—and the first since two racially-motivated random murder incidents and one attempt to assassinate former and current Democratic politicians via mail bomb—the White House Press Secretary spent some of her time defending Trump’s early morning tweet calling “fake news” the “Enemy of the People.”
In Trump’s universe, fake news is any news organizations that reports information he doesn’t like, so Trump essentially called every outlet aside from Fox News and Drudge Report an enemy. Trump said that if the media reported stories more accurately, “That will do much to put out the flame...” of disharmony in the country, deflecting the effects of his own incendiary language.
The tweet came up during a heated exchange between Sanders and CNN’s Jim Acosta, in which Acosta goaded Sanders about which outlet Trump was referring to.
ACOSTA: Should we reserve the term enemy for people who are actually the enemy of the United states instead of journalists?
SANDERS: The president’s not referencing all media. He’s talking about the growing amount of fake news that exists in the country. The president’s calling it out.
ACOSTA: Since you mention that, the president said this morning, “The fake news media, the true enemy of the people, must stop the open and obvious hostility and report the news accurately and fairly.” Can you state for the record which outlets you and the president regard as “the enemy of the people”?
SANDERS: I’m not going to walk through a list, but I think those individuals probably know who they are.
ACOSTA: Would that include my outlet, which received a bomb last week?
SANDERS: I don’t think it’s necessarily specific to broad generalization of a broad outlet. At times I think there’s individuals that the president would be referencing.
ACOSTA: If the president is going to say that fake news media are the enemy of the people, and if you’re going to stand there and continue to say there are some journalists, some news outlets in this country that meet that characterization, shouldn’t you have the guts, Sarah, to state which outlets, which journalists, are the enemy of the people?
SANDERS: I think it’s irresponsible of a news organization like yours to blame responsibility of a pipe bomb that was not sent by the president—not just blame the president, but blame members of his administration—for these heinous acts. I think that is outrageous and I think it’s irresponsible.
Sanders did also field questions about the string of right-wing violence in the last week: The murder of two black senior citizens at a grocery store, pipe bombs sent to critics of the president, and the murder of 11 Jewish people during a mass shooting at a synagogue. Sanders vehemently denied the claim that Trump’s rhetoric incites this violence.
“The very first thing that the president did was condemn the attacks, both in Pittsburgh and the pipe bombs,” said Sanders. “The first thing the media did was blame the president and blame him for these ridiculous acts. That is outrageous.”
Sanders also said Trump won the 2016 election by an overwhelming majority, so it’s clear that facts are still of little importance to Sanders during these once-in-a-blue-moon press conferences.