White House presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway got into a tense exchange with Jake Tapper on CNN Tuesday about news coverage of President Donald Trump — telling the host that "I don't think CNN is fake news," but saying that reports on the administration were permeated by "the presumptive negativity about us.
"Always believing that something is negative, nefarious," Conway said on Tapper's "The Lead" program.
"There are some reports everywhere — in print, on TV, on radio, in conversation — that are not well researched and are sometimes based on falseness," she said. "They're just not true — and they're actually beside the point and hurtful.
"I'm trying to reach out and say, 'I am very open press,'" she later added. "I put out the olive branch."
The interview started out with Conway bashing reports that Trump apparently supports Russian President Vladimir Putin and his claim that news organizations were not writing about the nation's murder rate, which Trump falsely claimed earlier Tuesday was the highest in 47 years.
"There just seems to be charge and accusation after charge and accusation that somehow President Trump and Vladimir Putin are bffs," Conway said. "That is not true."
Tapper then segued into a broader discussion on the relationship with the president and the press: "There is a larger campaign being waged by President Trump and by the White House to undermine the credibility of everybody in the news media except for certain supportive outlets."
Conway disputed Tapper's accusation, saying that responsibility "has to go both ways.
"I sincerely don't see a lot of difference in coverage from when he was a candidate and when he became the Republican nominee, the president-elect and indeed the president.
"Some outlets, some people, cover him the same way — and it doesn't have a great deal of respect, I think, for the office of the president's current occupant."
She later added: "This White House and the media have joint custody of our country for perhaps the next eight years.
"But at the same time, I do have to say when we read certain words being used to describe the president of the United States, it's never been done — it wasn't done about President [Barack] Obama.
"It wasn't done about either President [George H.W. and George W.] Bush, President [Bill] Clinton.
"People have a certain respect for and recognition of the dignity for the office of the president.
"And, so, I am beseeching everybody to cool it down," Conway said.
"There are some stories that are false."
Tapper then hammered Conway for Trump's attacks on CNN and other media outlets, saying that "it is difficult to hear criticism from the White House, which has such little regard — day in, day out — for facts, for truth and who calls us 'fake news' for stories that they don't like."
"We have a very high respect for the truth," she retorted. "We have a high regard for the facts."
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