WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said this weekend that he believes the news media should focus on President Donald Trump’s accomplishments rather than stories suggesting scandal.
On a CBS “Face the Nation” interview that aired Sunday morning, John Dickerson asked Priebus about a tweet that President Trump issued on Friday, making reference to the “fake news” media and calling the media “the enemy of the American people.”
Priebus said the problem was what he called “bogus stories.” He specifically called bogus a New York Times story saying the Trump administration had repeated contact with Russian officials, and another from the Wall Street Journal saying that the intelligence community is not giving Trump full briefings.
“Both stories grossly inaccurate, overstated, overblown, and it’s total garbage. So we spend, you know, 48 hours on bogus stories, and the American people suffer,” Priebus said.
Dickerson asked Priebus about whether Trump was serious about calling the news media “the enemy.”
“Well, the theory is that the press is supposed to be a free form of information to speak to the American people, I think it ought to be accurate, and I think that we’ve gotten to a place, John, where the media is willing to run with unnamed sources; apparently false leaked documents, to create stories. I mean, we deal with one after the next,” Priebus said. “I think that the media could stop with this unnamed source stuff, put names on a piece of paper, and print it. If people aren’t willing to put their name next to a quote, then the quote shouldn’t be listed.”
Priebus went on to say he thought the media should be reporting on what Trump has done in his first month in office.
“Well I think in our case, we have a total feeding frenzy, and something that’s gotten so out of control. When you look at the president’s accomplishments, why don’t we talk about the fact that we’ve pulled out of TPP? We did a deregulation executive order that takes two regulations for every one that’s put in place. We nominated Neil Gorsuch. We signed a bill – the president – in saving our coal mining jobs. We’ve met with the UK. We’ve met with Canada. We’ve met with Israel,” he said. “We have done so many things that are noteworthy and an accomplishment one day after the next.”
He said the news “should not be about bogus Russian spy stories, but rather should be “that this president has accomplished more in the first 30 days of this presidency than people can possibly remember in a very long time.”
Dickerson also asked Priebus about concerns from members of the administration and from Republicans on Capitol Hill that not everything is in control in the White House, and that there may be blind spots in the White House that need to be fixed. Priebus complained that Dickerson did not specifically identify those with concerns.
“First of all, there you go again. You’re talking about some people, those people, them, they – who are these people, John?” Priebus said. “This is what you guys do.”
Priebus went on to say: “Look, I think that what we hear from people on the Hill is the same thing I’m telling you, is that the media’s obsessed with a lot of false, hollow stories without sourcing that we have to track down and deal with.”
Priebus further said he agreed with Trump’s claim at a news conference this past Thursday that his administration is “running like a fine-tuned machine.” He said it would run even better once all the cabinet positions are filled.
Dickerson lastly asked Priebus about the high-profile exit of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
Flynn resigned at Trump’s request Monday after revelations that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about discussing sanctions with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. during the transition. Trump said in his news conference Thursday that he was disappointed by how Flynn had treated Pence, but did not believe Flynn had done anything wrong by having the conversations.
Echoing Trump’s own remarks, Priebus said it was not inappropriate for Flynn to talk with the Russian ambassador about sanctions laid down in the final weeks of the Obama administration.
“What (Trump) thinks is that (Flynn) didn’t do anything wrong,” Priebus said. “There was nothing wrong with talking to the Russian ambassador about the current sanctions being put in place by the Obama administration.”
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