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Trump at CPAC: Media ‘Shouldn’t Be Allowed’ to Use Unnamed Sources

Variety logo Variety 2/24/2017 Ted Johnson
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President Trump, speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday, once again railed against the media, telling the enthusiastic crowd that media outlets “shouldn’t be allowed” to use unnamed sources.

“I’m against the people that make up stories and make up sources,” Trump said. “They shouldn’t be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody’s name. Let their name be put out there. Let their name be put out.”

He also accused outlets of making up sources. He cited a story recently “where they said, ‘nine people have confirmed.’ There are no nine people. I don’t believe there was one or two people.”

He appeared to be referring to a Feb. 9 Washington Post story that cited nine sources in reporting that Michael Flynn, then the National Security Adviser, had discussed sanctions in a late December conversation with the Russian ambassador despite denying that it had been a topic. After the story appeared, Flynn resigned.

The use of unnamed sources, however, is ingrained in coverage, by the media and the White House. The Trump administration, like previous administrations, frequently holds background briefings where officials ask that they not be quoted by name. Trump himself cited unnamed sources in 2012 when he raised suspicions about President Barack Obama’s birth certificate.

Trump also pushed back at reaction to a tweet he sent out last week, in which he said that “fake news” was the “enemy of the people.”

In the tweet, Trump singled out CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC News and the New York Times as “fake news” and, ostensibly, the “enemy of the people.”

Trump accused the “dishonest media” of dropping off the word “fake” in its reporting about the tweet and “all of the sudden the media is the enemy. They take the word fake out. And now I’m saying, ‘Oh no. This is no good.’ But that’s the way they are. So I’m not against the media. I’m not against the press. I don’t mind bad stories if I deserve them.”

Trump also said that he had a right to criticize “fake news.” “I love the First Amendment. Nobody loves it better than me,” he said.

Trump continued to cast the media as “dishonest” and not representative of the country.

“It doesn’t represent the people, it never will represent the people and we’re going to do something about it,” he warned.

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