WASHINGTON — The White House ramped up its campaign against the press Monday, alleging that mistakes by reporters are the result of purposeful attempts to mislead the American public.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, in a heated exchange with reporters, called out news organizations for having to “retract and change and rewrite and make editors’ notes to a number of different stories” in recent weeks and claiming that journalists only “sometimes” own up to mistakes in their stories.
Sanders said Monday that these aren’t honest mistakes, as one reporter in the briefing room pointed out.
“There’s a very big difference between making honest mistakes and purposefully misleading the American people — something that happens regularly,” she said during the back-and-forth that, at one point, required her to raise her voice over reporters to say, “I’m not done.”
“You cannot say that it’s an honest mistake when you’re purposefully putting out information that you know to be false,” Sanders said.
Asked to point to specific instances of intentionally false reporting, Sanders cited Brian Ross, an ABC News reporter who had to retract information he incorrectly reported earlier this month, as an example of bias and intent to malign the president, although there is no evidence that Ross purposefully misreported the Russia-related claim. Ross was suspended for four weeks, and ABC News issued a correction.
“The reporting conveyed by Brian Ross during the special report had not been fully vetted through our editorial standards process,” ABC News said in a statement at the time. “As a result of our continued reporting over the next several hours ultimately we determined the information was wrong and we corrected the mistake on air and online.”
The contentious interaction with the press comes after Trump sent several tweets over the weekend and on Monday rebuking reporting about his TV viewing habits, how big his crowds were during a recent rally in Florida, and the Russia investigation.
Sanders was asked about the president’s recent tweets attacking a Washington Post reporter for tweeting, then deleting, an inaccurate picture of the crowd size at the Florida rally. The reporter apologized and explained his mistake on Twitter.
Sanders said the president was “simply calling out a very direct and false accusation lodged against him.”
“There was nothing more than an individual trying to put their bias into their reporting, and something that frankly has gotten a little bit out of control,” she said.
Fox News, which typically draws praise from the president for its coverage, also had its own recent issues with inaccurate reporting — though Sanders did not mention those. FoxNews.com had to revise a incorrect headline that incorrectly said one of Alabama Senate hopeful Roy Moore’s accusers “admits” that she had “forged” a yearbook message from Moore, and add an editor’s note to the bottom of the article explaining the changes.