President Donald Trump during a rally, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018, at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza in Wilkes Barre, Pa. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Trump renews attacks on ‘fake, fake disgusting news’

“Whatever happened to the free press? Whatever happened to honest reporting?” Trump asked the crowd.

President Donald Trump is renewing his campaign against the media, claiming at a Pennsylvania rally that the media is the “fake, fake disgusting news” and casting journalists as his true political opponent.

Trump barnstormed Thursday night in a state that he swiped from the Democrats in 2016 and that is home to a Senate seat he is trying to place in the Republicans’ column this fall. But the race between GOP U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta and two-term incumbent Democratic Sen. Bob Casey took a back seat to Trump’s invectives against the media, which came amid a backdrop of antagonism to journalists from the White House and hostility from the thousands packed into a loud, overheated Wilkes-Barre arena.

“Whatever happened to the free press? Whatever happened to honest reporting?” Trump asked, pointing to the media in the back of the hall. “They don’t report it. They only make up stories.”

Time and time again, Trump denounced the press for underselling his accomplishments and doubting his political rise.

He tore into the media for diminishing what he accomplished at his Singapore summit with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un. He tore into the tough questioning he received in Helsinki when he met with Russia’s Vladimir Putin last month. And he began the speech with a 10-minute remembrance of his 2016 election night victory, bemoaning that Pennsylvania wasn’t the state to clinch the White House for him only because “the fake news refused to call it.”

“They were suffering that night, they were suffering,” Trump said of the election night pundits. He then promised that the Keystone State would deliver his margin of victory “next time.”

“Only negative stories from the fakers back there,” the president declared.

Related: Trump returns from summit with Putin to forceful criticism

Related: Critics claim Trump “defended a tyrant”

With each denunciation, the crowd jeered and screamed at the press in the holding pen at the back of the arena.

The inflammatory performance came just hours after White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders refused to distance herself from Trump’s previous assertions that the media is the “enemy” of the American people. Pressed during a White House briefing on the issue, Sanders said Trump “has made his position known.”

In a heated exchange with reporters, she recited a litany of complaints against the press and blamed the media for inflaming tensions in the country.

“As far as I know, I’m the first press secretary in the history of the United States that’s required Secret Service protection,” she said, accusing the media of continuing “to ratchet up the verbal assault against the president and everyone in this administration.”

Though Barletta’s bid was an undercard to the Trump’s main event, savaging his opponents, the president did bless the congressman’s bid. Trump, who has accelerated his campaign schedule in recent weeks to help the Republicans he favours both in primaries and November’s midterms, was the first Republican to win Pennsylvania since 1988.

“For years and years, they said Republicans should win the state of Pennsylvania,” Trump said. “It always got away. But we won the state of Pennsylvania.”

He and Barletta, who is trailing by double digits in the polls, share hard-line immigration views, and Trump lashed Casey with his own derogatory nickname: “Sleeping Bob.”

But Trump’s focus was defending his own accomplishments and beliefs. He pushed for tougher borders, overstating the threat posed by violent gangs like MS-13 and making the murderous group a stand-in for all immigrants in the United States illegally.

He defended his kid-glove approach to both Kim and Putin, saying, “it would be a good thing, not a bad thing” to have warmer relations with the hostile powers and dismissing the talk that meeting with the autocrats elevated them on the world stage.

He bashed the Democratic leadership of Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and, curiously, suggested that his frequent foe Rep. Maxine Waters of California was “a new star” of the party.

He raved about the booming economy and said, without evidence, that his blue-collar supporters in states like Pennsylvania were the biggest beneficiaries.

And he looked ahead to his 2020 re-election campaign, touting his new slogan, “Keep America Great Again” while musing whether he wanted Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, whom he decried as “Pocahontas,” or Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, whom he flatly deemed “crazy,” as his opponent.

The rally came at a perilous time for Trump, who the day before bluntly declared his attorney general should terminate “right now” the federal probe into the campaign that took him to the White House, a newly fervent attack on the special counsel investigation that could imperil his presidency.

Sanders scrambled to explain that Trump’s tweet was “not an order” and the president was not directing his attorney general to do anything.

“It’s the president’s opinion,” she said.

But Trump’s tweetstorm again raised the spectre that he could try to more directly bring special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia-Trump election-collusion probe to a premature end. And it revived the idea that the president’s tweets themselves might be used as evidence that he is attempting to obstruct justice.

Negotiations have also started again about a possible presidential interview as Mueller’s team has offered the White House format changes, perhaps willing to limit some questions asked of Trump or accept some answers in writing, according to a person briefed on the proposal who wasn’t authorized to discuss private talks and spoke on condition of anonymity.

___

Colvin reported from Washington.

Jonathan Lemire And Jill Colvin, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Your candidates for Mayor and Council

The two candidates running for Kimberley Mayor and the 15 running for… Continue reading

Full house attends Council candidates forum

The Kimberley Chamber of Commerce held an All Candidates Forum at McKim… Continue reading

Election signs are being tampered with in Kimberley

Kimberley City Council candidate Michelle Nex is frustrated that someone is pulling… Continue reading

‘Police are ready’ for legal pot, say Canadian chiefs

But Canadians won’t see major policing changes as pot becomes legal

RCMP make arrests after crime spree

Two B.C. residents are in custody after evading police in Fernie and… Continue reading

Rick Mercer says pot is ‘excruciatingly boring’

Comedian hopes Canadians will move onto something else once marijuana is legalized

Canada Post union issues strike notice; rotating strikes could begin Monday

Union says rotating strikes will begin if agreements aren’t reached with bargaining units

Carole James avoids questions on B.C.’s payroll tax (with video)

Green MLA Adam Olsen cites huge tax increase for local business

Three Nelson marijuana dispensaries to remain open after legalization

Nelson’s police chief has no plans to close them down

2 charged for feeding B.C. bear Tim Horton’s timbits

Court documents show that Randy Scott and Megan Hiltz have both been charged with feeding or attempting to feed dangerous wildlife.

Killer-rapist Paul Bernardo set for parole bid after 25 years in prison

Bernardo’s parole hearing at the Bath Institution is expected to attract numerous observers

Feds aiming to select preferred design for $60B warships by end of month

Defence insiders say the government wants to select a design by the end of the month from among three options submitted by several of the largest defence and shipbuilding companies in the world.

B.C. city wants control over its cannabis advertising rules

Without a say, towns and cities risk Washington-State-style flood of advertising, proponent says

Defence cautions against mob justice in Calgary child neglect trial

Jennifer and Jeromie Clark of Calgary have pleaded not guilty to criminal negligence causing death

Most Read