While attacking CNN and other news outlets, Trump also noted that “Fox has treated me very nice. Wherever Fox is, thank you.”
Attacks on the media have been a hallmark of Trump’s campaign and his less-than-two-weeks-old presidency, amid news reports of administration infighting and global protests of an order barring entry into the United States from seven Muslim majority countries. White House officials are no longer appearing on CNN to explain the administration’s policies.
While paying tribute to February’s African American History Month — “Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who has done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice,” he said at one point — Trump then launched into another attack on an erroneous report that a bust of Martin Luther King. Jr. had been removed from the Oval Office.
“It turned out that that was fake news,” he said. “But that’s the way the press is … Very unfortunate.”
It was never a news story: The claim about King bust was contained in a pool report — and tweeted out by some social media users — but was corrected within minutes of release.
During his discussion of African American History Month, Trump cited the contributions of heroes like King, Douglass, Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman.
Frederick Douglass, who died in 1895, was an icon of the 19th century who escaped slavery to become a nationally known abolitionist, social reformer and writer, a best-selling author and contemporary of President Abraham Lincoln; the face of Tubman, also a former slave and an engineer of the Underground Railroad for runaway slaves, will soon adorn the $20 bill.
“During this month, we honor the tremendous history of the African Americans throughout our country, throughout the world if you really think about it, right?” Trump said. “And this story’s one of unimaginable sacrifice, hard work and faith in America.”
At one point, Trump noted that one of his guests had been a commentator in the “very hostile CNN community.”
The meeting included African-American pastors, business leaders and political people who supported Trump’s presidential campaign. Members of Trump’s team also attended, including Housing and Urban Development secretary-designate Ben Carson and communications adviser Omarosa Manigault.
Another topic that surfaced during the African American History Month meeting: violence and shooting deaths in Chicago.
Echoing his threat to “send in the feds” if Chicago is not somehow cleaned up, Trump told the group: “We’re going to have to do something about Chicago.”
Trump was responding to a comment from Darrell Scott, a Cleveland pastor and Trump supporter who claimed that he was contacted by “some of the top gang thugs in Chicago for a sit-down.”
The meeting took place the morning after Trump held a ceremony to announce he was nominating federal appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
Referring to reporters, Trump said: “I’m sure they have no questions about last night because it was such a good launch.”