Trump defends Twitter use after attacking media

Joe Scarborough (right) and Mika Brzezinski host MSNBC's Morning Joe in a file photo.
Joe Scarborough (right) and Mika Brzezinski host MSNBC's Morning Joe in a file photo. PHOTO: NYTIMES

WASHINGTON (AFP, REUTERS) - United States President Donald Trump defended his aggressive use of Twitter on Saturday (July 1) just hours after firing off his latest volley in his escalating feud with US media.

Following an early morning Twitter tirade at CNN, NBC and a morning show host he taunted as “dumb as a rock”, the president then went on the defensive, touting his electoral accomplishments as justification for his increasingly hostile rhetoric.

“The FAKE & FRAUDULENT NEWS MEDIA is working hard to convince Republicans and others I should not use social media – but remember, I won the 2016 election with interviews, speeches and social media,” Trump said on Twitter.

“I had to beat #FakeNews, and did. We will continue to WIN!” he posted, before ending the day at a rally in Washington that included a similar anti-media barrage.

Get The Straits Times
newsletters in your inbox

In recent days, the US leader has railed against major news organisations as “fake news” and launched a crude personal attack on Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, who headline the Morning Joe programme on the left-leaning MSNBC cable network.

"Crazy Joe Scarborough and dumb as a rock Mika are not bad people, but their low rated show is dominated by their NBC bosses. Too bad!" he wrote, seemingly trying to get in the final word in his clash with the journalists.

Apparently stung by critical coverage on the show, Mr Trump on Thursday (June 29) had tweeted: "I heard poorly rated @Morning-Joe speaks badly of me (don't watch anymore).

"Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe came to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year's Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!"

The comments sparked a major backlash, as well as condemnation from within Trump's own Republican party.

The TV hosts responded on Friday (June 30) with an opinion piece in the Washington Post titled "Donald Trump is not well," questioning his "unmoored behaviour" and fitness to serve.

Mr Trump on Saturday also targeted CNN, a frequent punching bag for the President.

"I am extremely pleased to see that @CNN has finally been exposed as #FakeNews and garbage journalism. It's about time!" he tweeted, referring to an article that the cable news channel retracted, which claimed Congress was investigating links between Trump's administration and a Russian investment fund.

Three CNN journalists resigned over the article, which was posted on the network's website on June 22 before being yanked the next day.

“I am thinking about changing the name #FakeNews CNN to #FraudNewsCNN!” Trump posted.

He also suggested in a third tweet that veteran ex-Fox journalist Greta Van Susteren, who left MSNBC this week, "was let go by her out of control bosses at @NBC & @Comcast because she refused to go along w/ 'Trump hate!'"

Mr Trump's spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said earlier this week that his attacks on Ms Brzezinski, Mr Scarborough and other media was part of his natural instinct to "fight fire with fire".

On Saturday, those instincts seemed to be on display.

“My use of social media is not Presidential – it’s MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL,” Trump posted on Twitter, before adding his classic tagline “Make America Great Again!”

Mr Trump also lashed out on Saturday at the growing number of states refusing to give voters' names, addresses and sensitive personal information to a commission he created to investigate alleged voter fraud.

"Numerous states are refusing to give information to the very distinguished VOTER FRAUD PANEL. What are they trying to hide?" Mr Trump said on Twitter.

More than 20 states have declined the requests, saying they are unnecessary and violated privacy, according to statements from election officials and media reports.

"This commission was formed to try to find basis for the lie that President Trump put forward that has no foundation," Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes told Reuters previously in an interview.

Mr Trump's Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity sent a letter to all 50 states on Wednesday (June 28) asking them to turn over voter information including names, the last four digits of social security numbers, addresses, birth dates, political affiliation, felony convictions and voting histories.

 

Republican Mr Trump has made unsubstantiated claims that millions of people voted illegally for his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. He established the panel by executive order in May despite evidence that voter fraud was not widespread.

The request from commission Vice Chairman Kris Kobach caused a backlash in states including Virginia, Kentucky, California, New York and Massachusetts, where election officials said they would not provide all the data.

Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann had said in a statement that he did not see the letter but would rebuff the commission. "They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi is a great state to launch from," he said.