Nov 1, 2018

The Trump allies who have pushed back on his media attacks

Ivanka Trump at an Axios News Shapers event in August. Photo: Chuck Kennedy/Axios

In an interview with "Axios on HBO," President Trump said his supporters like him more when he dials up his attacks on the media and that he is "doing a service" by labeling those who cover him unfairly or inaccurately "the enemy of the people."

The big picture: Trump's core base might enjoy his fiery rhetoric, but several of the president's close allies have broken with him when it comes to his characterization of the media. That includes his own daughter and White House adviser Ivanka Trump, who told Axios in August that while she has been the subject of stories she knows to be false, she doesn't consider the media to be the enemy.

What they've said:

  • White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway: "I don't believe journalists are the enemy of the people. I think some journalists are the enemy of the relevant, the enemy of the news you can use. And I think most of the sins are of omission, not commission."
  • Sen. Mitch McConnell: "I don’t view you guys as the enemy. I view that you have a job to do. I expect adversarial questions. And you rarely disappoint me. And I think its part of what make America function. We need a free and open press and we certainly have that and so that’s my view.”
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham: "I think the press in America is a check and balance on power. I think sometimes you get tribal like the rest of the country. Sometimes you can be a pain in the ass, but you're not the enemy of the people. As a matter of fact, without a free press, I wouldn't want to live in that country."
  • Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci: "I don't think that this war with the media is something that's going to help him long term. ... I've said that consistently that they're not the enemy. You can have an adversarial relationship, you can disagree with people in the press. ... But I don't like the war declaration because it will lead to something that none of us really want."

The other side: Newt Gingrich, speaking at an Axios event last month, said, "I don't think [the "enemy of the people" label] helps, except I think that they earned it. If you're overseas and you watch CNN International, you know the Russians don't have to run any propaganda television. There's no more anti-American network than CNN International."

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