Donald Trump tore into CNN and NBC on Thursday morning as he accused the networks of making up stories about him over Russia.
The President called out Lester Holt for ‘fudging my tape on Russia’, seeming to accuse the anchor of faking an interview in which Trump admitted firing James Comey over the Russia investigation.
Trump also claimed NBC News chairman Andrew Lack is about to be fired ‘for incompetence and much worse.’
It comes after Trump ripped into CNN for a story which claimed that lawyer Michael Cohen was willing to provide evidence that Trump knew about a meeting between his son and a Russian lawyer who claimed to have dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Donald Trump stepped up his attacks on CNN and NBC on Thursday as he accused both networks of making up stories about him over Russia
Trump accused CNN of harboring ‘hatred and extreme bias’ against him after it reported that he knew about the Trump Tower meeting between his son and a Russian lawyer
The President then turned his attention to NBC News, accusing Lester Holt of ‘fudging’ an interview in which Trump admitted firing James Comey over the Russia probe, and raising the prospect that chairman Andy Lack is about to be fired
Trump ended the barrage by calling the media the ‘enemy of the people’, a phrase he has repeated several times over recent days
The White House has offered contradictory explanations about Trump’s reason for firing Comey, but the President has never accused Holt of faking his interview before (pictured) and provided no evidence to back his claim
Trump wrote: ‘The hatred and extreme bias of me by CNN has clouded their thinking and made them unable to function.
‘But actually, as I have always said, this has been going on for a long time. Little Jeff Z has done a terrible job, his ratings suck, & AT&T should fire him to save credibility!
‘What’s going on at CNN is happening, to different degrees, at other networks – with NBC News being the worst.
Andy Lack: NBC News chair under pressure
Andy Lack is known to be under pressure at NBC News amid a torrid year for the network.
He is facing questions over whether he knew about sex harassment claims against ousted anchor Matt Lauer, and whether a culture of harassment has existed at the network for years.
Since Lauer was forced off the Today show ratings have bombed and Lack has been unable to claw viewers back from rival Good Morning America.
Lack is also being scrutinized over several lapses in judgement, not least for paying $23million to tempt Megyn Kelly away from Fox News before her new show bombed.
Meanwhile deputy Noah Oppenheim passed up on Ronan Farrow’s Pulitzer-winning expose on Harvey Weinstein’s alleged decades of sexual abuse, which was published by the New Yorker despite NBC investing considerable time and money in it.
Lack has also faced questions over why he sat on the Access Hollywood tape which contained Trump’s infamous ‘grab ’em by the p****’ line that almost ended his presidential run.
‘The good news is that Andy Lack(y) is about to be fired(?) for incompetence, and much worse.
‘When Lester Holt got caught fudging my tape on Russia, they were hurt badly!
‘I just cannot state strongly enough how totally dishonest much of the Media is. Truth doesn’t matter to them, they only have their hatred & agenda.
‘This includes fake books, which come out about me all the time, always anonymous sources, and are pure fiction. Enemy of the People!’
Trump has not previously accused Holt of faking any part of the interview where he spoke about the Russia investigation, although the White House has offered contradictory statements on the reason for Comey’s firing.
The President has alluded to unspecified ‘bad behavior’ by Lack in the past, though has never provided evidence to back his claims.
However, Lack is known to be under pressure at NBC amid sexual harassment scandals, the $23million it paid to Megyn Kelly only for her show to bomb, and passing up on Ronan Farrow’s Pulitzer-winning expose on Harvey Weinstein.
The Thursday morning tweets followed on from other blistering messages on Wednesday night in which Trump sparred with CNN and Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein over their Russia story.
Trump said the network had been caught in a ‘major lie’ after Lanny Davis, lawyer for Michael Cohen, admitted being the source of the story and backtracked his claims.
Trump said ‘CNN is being torn apart from within’ over the story, while blasting Bernstein as ‘sloppy’ and a ‘degenerate fool… who lives in the past’.
But Bernstein and the network clapped back, saying they stood by their reporting and would not be cowed by attacks from Washington.
The President accused CNN of being caught in a ‘major lie and refusing to admit the mistake’, while accusing Bernstein of being a ‘degenerate fool’ who ‘lives in the past’
In a direct response to Trump, CNN said it stood by its reporting before adding: ‘There are many fools in this story but Carl Bernstein is not one of them’
Bernstein also responded to Trump’s attack, saying he would not be dissuaded from ‘bringing the truth to light’ with taunting
In a strongly-worded statement issued on Trump’s preferred media of Twitter, CNN said: ‘Make no mistake, Mr. President, CNN does not lie. We report the news. And we report when people in power tell lies.
‘CNN stands by our reporting and our reporters. There may be many fools in this story but Carl Bernstein is not one of them.’
Meanwhile Bernstein tweeted: ‘I have spent my life as a journalist bringing the truth to light, through administrations of both parties.
‘No taunt will diminish my commitment to that mission, which is the essential role of a free press. CNN stands by its story, and I stand by my reporting.’
The saga began when CNN ran a report last month claiming that Cohen, Trump’s long-time personal lawyer, had evidence that Trump knew in advance about a meeting between his son and a Russian lawyer during the 2016 election.
Donald Jr has admitted to taking the meeting after the lawyer offered him dirt on Hillary Clinton, possibly providing evidence that Trump was involved in collusion.
Cohen was willing to offer this evidence in testimony to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, CNN claimed, citing anonymous sources.
But Davis admitted to BuzzFeed News this week that he was a source for that story, and could no longer verify those claims.
The report also claimed that Davis had declined to comment on the record, when in fact he provided extensive comment.
Earlier on Wednesday Trump claimed that anonymous sources are typically ‘fiction made up’ by ‘Enemy of the People’ reporters.
‘The fact is that many anonymous sources don’t even exist. They are fiction made up by the Fake News reporters,’ the president tweeted.
President Trump leaped at the chance on Wednesday to harangue the media for a debacle involving Michael Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis
Lanny Davis (above) has backpedaled on several key claims he made as an ‘anonymous source’ to news oulets, severely undermining the possibility that Cohen could tie President Trump to claims of Russian election interference
Cohen (above) pleaded guilty last week to several charges, which Davis says allowed him to finally speak out to clarify what he said as an anonymous source, now that the criminal investigation is ended
Trump claimed in a tweet Wednesday that anonymous sources are typically ‘fiction made up’ by ‘Enemy of the People’ reporters, even though Davis admits to making the claims he says he can no longer back up
‘Look at the lie that Fake CNN is now in. They got caught red handed! Enemy of the People!’
A follow-up tweet claimed: ‘When you see ‘anonymous source,’ stop reading the story, it is fiction!’
Davis says that he couldn’t clear the record until Cohen pleaded guilty last week, because of the ongoing criminal investigation. CNN says it had other sources as well.
In a series of interviews, Davis backpedaled two assertions: that Cohen saw Trump being advised beforehand of the notorious Trump Tower meeting and that Cohen could testify that Trump was aware of Russian hacking.
Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani has also made incorrect claims about the Trump Tower meeting and admitted in a New York Times profile this week to making mistakes in his unpaid representation of the president.
Former Trump attorney John Dowd said Wednesday on Fox News that Davis’ conduct, which sparked a debate about how sourcing is handled by news agencies, was ‘despicable’ and ‘indicative’ of what Trump is up against.
‘I don’t know how he does it,’ he said. ‘It’s a great burden on the presidency.’
Slamming Davis, a longtime defender of former President Bill Clinton, Down said: ‘Lanny Davis is no surprise, I don’t know why anybody would find him credible in the first place.’
Davis and Cohen’s lack of credibility is at the heart of Trump’s lawyers claims that Trump should not be charged as a co-conspirator in crimes that his ex-attorney says they committed together. Cohen told prosecutors that he paid off a woman who says she had sex with the married billionaire prior to the 2016 election on a direct order.
The CNN report, which received prime-time play on the network, raised the possibility that Cohen had and was willing to offer the special counsel additional, damaging information on Trump.
Top CNN reporters Jim Sciutto, Marshall Cohen and Carl Bernstein of Watergate reporting fame had bylines on the story.
Other outlets that raced to confirm the CNN scoop in July, including the New York Post and Washington Post, have now admitted that Davis was their source, and published the lawyer’s apology for misleading them.
‘I regret that I wasn’t clear enough to The Post. I should have been more clear. I could not independently confirm the information in the CNN story,’ Davis told the New York paper. ‘I regret my error.’
Davis is also backing down from suggestions he made on television after Cohen’s guilty plea about what his client could tell Mueller about Russian hacking during the 2016 campaign and allegations that Trump knew about it before it became public.
CNN is standing by its July report (above) that said Cohen was willing to testify that Trump knew about the Trump Tower meeting in advance
Davis told CNN that ‘Cohen was an observer and was a witness to Mr. Trump’s awareness of those emails before they were dropped,’ Davis told the Washington Post, ‘There’s a possibility that is the case. But I am not sure.’
Giuliani and another Trump lawyer, Jay Sekulow, have also delivered incorrect information to the public.
Sekulow wrongly claimed that the president was not involved in a false statement that Trump was said to have dictated on Air Force One about his son’s meeting at Trump Tower.
He admitted in an ABC News interview that he ‘had bad information’ and realized ‘over time’ that the claim he made was incorrect.
Giuliani wrongly told NBC News this month that he didn’t know if participants in the meeting, including Trump Jr, ex-campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, knew that lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya ‘was Russian at the time.’
‘All they had was her name,’ Giuliani in the interview said.
In fact, emails released by the president’s son make clear that he was explicitly told an attendee at the meeting would be a ‘Russian government attorney’ who wanted to provide damaging information to the campaign about Hillary Clinton.
Donald Trump Jr. attacked CNN as ‘literal fake news’ after it Davis revealed he was the source for the misinformation on what Cohen was willing to testify. The president’s son also claimed that Bernstein is a ‘leftist hack.’
President Trump has denied claims that he knew about the Trump Tower meeting before it took place. He tore into news outlets that promoted Davis’ claims in tweets on Saturday and Wednesday.
‘Michaels Cohen’s attorney clarified the record, saying his client does not know if President Trump knew about the Trump Tower meeting (out of which came nothing!),’ Trump said in the Saturday tweet. ‘The answer is that I did NOT know about the meeting. Just another phony story by the Fake News Media!’
He similarly ripped the ‘fake news’ on Wednesday for masking Davis’ identity by allowing him to act as an anonymous source while saying in the same article that he refused to comment on the record.