Sanders Refuses to Say That the Press Is Not the Enemy of the People

The White House press secretary repeatedly declined to take issue with the president’s label.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks during a press briefing. Cheriss May/NurPhoto/ZUMA Press

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Update: President Donald Trump clarified his stance in a tweet Thursday afternoon:

Original story: White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders repeatedly declined on Thursday to say that the press was not the enemy of the American people, after President Donald Trump gave the media that label on Sunday and his daughter Ivanka refuted it on Thursday.

Instead, Sanders listed the ways the media had wronged her and the administration, accusing reporters of making “personal attacks without any content other than to incite anger.” Sanders’ listed grievances included the April White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, where comedian Michelle Wolfe compared her to Aunt Lydia, the anti-feminist villain of The Handmaid’s Tale.

“I think the president has made his position known,” Sanders told CNN’s Jim Acosta, who had asked her to say the press was not the enemy of the people after she ignored a similar question. “It’s ironic, Jim, that not only you and the media attack the president for his rhetoric, when they frequently lower the level of conversation in this country.”

When Acosta pointed out her failure to answer the question, she responded that she speaks on behalf of Trump and that “he’s made his comments clear.”

Acosta tweeted that he walked out of the press briefing, which he called “shameful.” On CNN, Acosta said he felt badly that Sanders had been “yelled at at a restaurant in Virginia… and a comedian at the correspondent’s dinner said some unpleasant things about her.” But he added that Sanders should read and hear the things that are said to the press on a regular basis. At a Trump rally in Tampa on Tuesday, supporters of the president shouted at the press corps, chanting “CNN sucks” and flashing middle fingers at Acosta as he tried to speak on-air.

“It is un-American to come out here and call the press the enemy of the people,” Acosta said on air after the briefing. “It would be nice if we all lowered the temperature a little bit, but at the very least I think we should all be able to agree on one thing, and that is that the press is not the enemy of the people. Fellow Americans are not the enemy of fellow Americans.”

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"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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