WASHINGTON – President Trump returned from the Thanksgiving holiday with another attack on one of his favorite targets – the news media – suggesting Monday morning on Twitter a "contest" to determine which television network deserves a "fake news trophy."
Taking special aim at CNN, and carving out an exception for Fox News, which often provides flattering coverage of him and his administration, Trump tweeted:
Shortly after, the president retweeted a missive by Dan Scavino, the White House director of social media, which noted that MSNBC's Morning Joe had pretaped its post-Thanksgiving show for Friday, with the hosts falsely bantering about holiday meals that had not yet happened.
"The good news is that their ratings are terrible, nobody cares!" Trump added.
Trump has made no secret of his disdain for the media, whose attention he constantly craves despite making it a frequent punching bag to shore up support from his base. But his latest tweet about CNN could complicate, at least in terms of political optics, the move by his Justice Department to block AT&T's $85 billion merger with Time Warner, which owns CNN.
The president has long been critical of CNN, and some Democrats have worried that antitrust officials may be trying to block the deal because of the president's animosity toward the network – an allegation both the White House and the Justice Department deny.
Trump recently claimed that he rarely watches TV because he's too busy reading "documents," but White House aides privately concede that is simply not true. The president, who has boasted about his TiVo and often eats lunch in a tiny room off the Oval Office, complete with a flat-screen television, is a devoted TV watcher, especially in the mornings and at night in the residence.
On Monday, the president did not have his daily intelligence briefing on his morning schedule, which may have given him time for morning show viewing, prompting his tweet.
And after he got his TV criticism out of his system, the president did finally turn to the legislative hurdles facing his administration and congressional Republicans, offering a few characters in support of their tax plan.