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Trump Continues Attacks On The Media During News Conference


The president-elect took questions from reporters yesterday and offered a way to manage his worldwide business conflicts of interest, which we discuss elsewhere this morning. He also took questions about Russia and so much more. But the question he refused to take suggests his edgy relationship with the citizens who work as reporters. NPR's David Folkenflik reports.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK, BYLINE: It had been months since Trump took questions from reporters at a press conference, and there were so many questions to ask. Reports surfaced this week that intelligence officials had briefed President Obama and Trump on unverified allegations that Russian agents may have videotaped the president-elect participating in salacious sexual activity and that his associates may have had legally questionable contacts with the Russian government. Major Garrett is White House correspondent for CBS News.

MAJOR GARRETT: He has to, it seems to me, deal with that and if possible, dispel it in his own words and not via Twitter account and not by quoting the Russians, by saying what he knows, what he believes and what he represents about himself, his campaign and the Russian government.

FOLKENFLIK: Trump greeted the reporters gathered in the marbled atrium of Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan with a smile. His transition staffers, family and corporate employees cheered him on.


DONALD TRUMP: Thank you very much. It's very familiar territory, news conferences, because we used to give them on a almost daily basis. I think we probably, maybe won the nomination because of news conferences, and it's good to be with you.

FOLKENFLIK: Trump actually praised news organizations that showed restraint on the allegations and suggested the frequency of his presidential press conferences might depend on what coverage he received.


TRUMP: We stopped giving them because we were getting quite a bit of inaccurate news.

FOLKENFLIK: BuzzFeed had published the full dossier on the Russian allegations, saying that readers deserve to know what information senior government officials had.


TRUMP: I think it's a disgrace that information that was false and fake and never happened got released to the public. As far as BuzzFeed, which is a failing pile of garbage, writing it, I think they're going to suffer the consequences. They already are.

FOLKENFLIK: BuzzFeed did carefully note that many of the allegations were unverified and that there were errors. But it reported that U.S. intelligence officials, by and large, trusted the source, said to be a retired British intelligence officer researching Trump for his American political rivals. Some news executives said BuzzFeed's decisions set the bar for publication too low. At the press conference, Trump made no distinction between BuzzFeed's reporting and that of CNN.


TRUMP: Go ahead. Go ahead. No, not you. Not you. Your organization's terrible.

FOLKENFLIK: CNN's Jim Acosta sought to be recognized. CNN had reported on the nature of the dossier and the briefings, but withheld details that the network said it could not verify.


TRUMP: Don't be rude. No, I'm not going to give you a - I am not going to give you a question. You are fake news.

FOLKENFLIK: Unwelcome news became fake news in Trump's rhetoric.

OLIVIA NUZZI: I think the stakes are higher for us in the press, right?

FOLKENFLIK: Olivia Nuzzi covers Trump for The Daily Beast.

NUZZI: Trump has gotten away with not talking to us since he got elected. And when he does talk to us, he doesn't say anything very accurate. He doesn't generally answer our questions. So we have a lot more that we need from him than he needs from us at this point.

FOLKENFLIK: When a reporter asked about his ongoing refusal to release his past tax documents, Trump replied that the public didn't care, only the press did. After all, Trump said, I won. David Folkenflik, NPR News, New York.

(SOUNDBITE OF APHRODESIA SONG, "EVERY DAY") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

David Folkenflik was described by Geraldo Rivera of Fox News as "a really weak-kneed, backstabbing, sweaty-palmed reporter." Others have been kinder. The Columbia Journalism Review, for example, once gave him a "laurel" for reporting that immediately led the U.S. military to institute safety measures for journalists in Baghdad.
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