US President Donald Trump returned to the Conservative Political Action Conference, assuring audience that they have a top advocate for their policy priorities in the White House while also taking aim at the media.
“All of these years we’ve been together and now you finally have a President, finally,” the ABC News quoted Trump as saying on Friday. The President was notably absent from the annual conservative gathering during his presidential run last year and was criticised in the GOP primary for skipping the event.
“I would have come last year but I was worried that I’d be at that time too controversial,” Trump told the enthusiastic crowd. “We wanted border security. We wanted very, very strong military. We wanted all of the things that we’re going to get, and people considered that controversial, but you didn’t consider it controversial.”
The President also doubled down on his attacks on the media, repeating his assertion that the “fake” news is the “enemy of the American people”. He also zeroed in on the use of unnamed sources. “I’m against the people that make up stories and make up sources.”
“They shouldn’t be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody’s name. Let their name be put out there,” Trump said.
According to the ABC News, the renewed criticism of the media came amid reports that White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to knock down news stories of Trump campaign officials communicating with Russian intelligence agents.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on Friday said Priebus only asked the FBI to go public with information that they had first privately provided to him which cast doubt on the media reports.
The President seemed to want to qualify his attack, saying he was not against all media.”I want you all to know that we are fighting the fake news,” said Trump. “It’s fake, phony, fake.”
Referring to a tweet he posted a week ago, in which said the “fake news media is the enemy of the American people”, the President said criticism was itself misrepresented by the media.
“In covering my comments, the dishonest media did not explain that I called the fake news the enemy of the people. The fake news,” said Trump. “They dropped off the word ‘fake’. And all of a sudden, the story became, the media is the enemy. They take the word ‘fake’ out.”
Trump’s speech marked his fifth time addressing the annual gathering of right-wing organisers and activists. The conference hosted by the American Conservative Union began in 1974 and has since grown into a four-day-long event with thousands of attendees.