Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Sanders accused CNN of being a "disgrace" to journalism. During a press briefing at the White House on Tuesday, she cited a new undercover video released by Project Veritas in which a CNN news producer suggested that the news media are sensationalizing its coverage of the supposed collusion between Russian agents and members of Donald Trump’s campaign organization. She said that President Trump is "frustrated" by the "constant barrage of fake news" about his administration and the federal investigation into whether his 2016 campaign.
Sanders also noted that CNN retracted a Russia story last week. She called on journalists to watch the undercover video, produced by activist James O'Keefe. Three members of CNN news resigned this week over the retracted story. "There's a video circulating now, whether it's accurate or not I don't know, but I would encourage everybody in this room and frankly, everybody across the country, to take a look at it," she said. "I think if it is accurate, I think it's a disgrace to all of media, to all of journalism."
"I think that we have gone to a place where if the media can't be trusted to report the news, then that's a dangerous place for America," she added.
Published on Monday night, the undercover video shows CNN producer John Bonifield, who covers medical issues, saying, "I just feel like they really don't have it [proof of collusion] but they want to keep digging." Bonifield went on to say, "And so I think the president is probably right to say, ‘Look, you are witch hunting me.'" He also said that the federal investigation into whether Trump's 2016 campaign colluded with the Russian government "could be bullsh-t" and that it is "mostly bullsh-t right now."
CNN has since said that it stands by Bonifield.
The press briefing on Tuesday was the first on camera in more than a week. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was questioned on Monday about the decision to allow only audio recording of the briefing. Some journalists sought to record the briefing with the cell phones. On Tuesday, when Sanders attempted to address a question about the president’s tweeted response to the resignations of the three CNN journalists, she was interrupted by Brian Karem of Sentinel Newspapers.
“If any one of us doesn’t get it right, the audience has the opportunity to turn the channel or not read us,” Karem said. “You have been elected to serve four years at least — there’s no option other than that.”
“We’re in here asking you questions,” Karem continued. “You’re here to provide the answers and what you just did is inflammatory to people all over the country who look at it and say, ‘See, once again, the president’s right and everybody else out here is fake media.’ And everybody in this room is trying to do their job.”
“I disagree completely,” Sanders answered. “I think if anything’s been inflamed, it’s often the dishonesty that takes in the news media. And I think it’s outrageous for you to accuse me of inflaming a story when I was simply trying to respond to his question.”