Tapper defends CNN coverage after heated Trump press conference
CNN's Jake Tapper defended his network Wednesday over reports claiming Russia tried to compromise Donald Trump, stating the president-elect and his team were conflating CNN with BuzzFeed.
The defense came after Trump and incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer slammed CNN and BuzzFeed in Trump's first press conference as president-elect.
Tapper defended his network's reporting in the moments after the press conference finished, contrasting CNN's coverage with BuzzFeed's decision Tuesday night to published an unverified dossier involving Trump and Russia.
"At the beginning of the press conference, Sean Spicer, who's going to be the White House [press] secretary, suggested that both BuzzFeed and CNN published this dossier full of uncorroborated rumors. That's not true. That's false. CNN never did that," he said.
"That conflation -- whether because Sean Spicer misunderstood or some other reason -- that's not true."
Trump called CNN and Acosta "fake news," refusing to allow the CNN reporter to ask a question.
"When Mr. Trump went after our own Jim Acosta, saying he's fake news and he isn't going to call on him [for a question], what I suspect we're seeing here is an attempt to discredit legitimate, responsible attempts to report on this incoming administration with irresponsible journalism that hurts us all and the media going forward," Tapper said.
Tapper, who hosts "The Lead" weekdays and "State of the Union" on Sunday, also stated he could "understand why" Trump and his surrogates were upset with BuzzFeed's decision to publish the full document that hadn't been verified.
“It's irresponsible to put uncorroborated information on the internet. I can understand why President-elect Trump would be upset about that. I would be upset, too," said Tapper. "It is why we did not publish it and why we did not detail anything specific from it."
"That's not what we do. We're in the business of sussing out what is true and what is false."
The 35-page document, comprised of memos filled with explosive and scandalous claims about Trump and Russia, has reportedly been circulating among reporters and government officials for weeks, but the claims were unverifiable and therefore not published by major news organizations.
CNN also reported that its report is based on memos compiled by a former British intelligence operative that were originally intended to serve as opposition research into Trump.
The network further defended its reporting Wednesday, saying that its "decision to publish carefully sourced reporting about the operations of our government is vastly different than Buzzfeed's decision to publish unsubstantiated memos."
"The Trump team knows this. They are using Buzzfeed's decision to deflect from CNN's reporting, which has been matched by the other major news organizations," CNN said in a statement, calling on Trump's team to identify specific details they believe to be inaccurate.
"We are fully confident in our reporting. It represents the core of what the First Amendment protects, informing the people of the inner workings of their government; in this case, briefing materials prepared for President Obama and President-elect Trump last week."