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Trump's White House declares war on media

Last updated on: January 23, 2017 18:12 IST

The Trump administration will "rethink" its ties with the media if the "obsessed" press tries to "delegetimise" Donald Trump's presidency by false reporting, his top aides warned, saying they will fight such coverage "tooth and nail every day".

"There's an obsession by the media to delegitimise this President, and we are not going to sit around and let it happen. We're going to fight back tooth and nail every day," the White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said, triggering a fresh round of war of words with the media mainly sparked by the number of people attending Trump's inauguration.

"The point is not the crowd size, the point is that the attacks and the attempts to delegitimise this President in one day -- and we're not going to sit around and take it," Priebus told Fox News on Monday.

Earlier, unhappy over media reports on the crowd size at presidential inauguration on Friday, Trump has described journalists as the most "dishonest human beings on Earth".

Priebus said that President Trump was trying to unify the country from day one in office, but the media was resorting to false reporting to "delegitimise" him.

"The media, from day one, has been talking about delegitimising the election, talking about the Russians, talking about everything you can imagine, except the fact that we need to move this country forward," Priebus said.

He said Trump's presidency would fight such coverage "tooth and nail every day".

Meanwhile, another top aide, Kellylanne Conway, Counselor to the President, told ABC News that the Trump administration can "rethink" its relationship with the media if false reporting continues.

Conway said that it is completely irresponsible for the media to be calling the White House press secretary a "liar" on Twitter and Facebook and elsewhere in articles.

"That is not the way to start relationships," she said.

"We have not been treated very well. This man (Trump) is the President of the United States. If people would just go back, and listen to and watch his inaugural address again, that goes for everybody, calling for unification, being aspirational, talking about giving power back to the people.

"We can't invite a press pool on the first day of the Oval Office with the President of the United States signing executive orders and then a big lie told about the bust of Martin Luther King Jr, days after our President Trump met with Martin Luther King III in New York and had an incredibly powerful and constructive conversation with Martin Luther King Jr.'s son saying that he wants to support this President, that he believes he must unify and heal the nation," Conway said.

"Then you have a bunch of people from the press writing these snarky articles that were also false. It has to go both ways and it has to start right now," the top Trump aide told the news network.

She was responding to questions on the White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer accusing the media a day earlier for indulging in inaccurate reporting and asserting that he would hold the media accountable.

"The press pooler gave a false report, that the bust of Martin Luther King Jr had been removed from the Oval Office. That is just false. It is dangerous and destructive on day one for the press to be reporting false information like that," Conway added.

Trump on Sunday tweeted about television ratings of the inauguration, saying that 31 million people had watched, 11 million more than four years ago.

US ratings firm Nielsen said nearly 31 million had watched the inauguration on television - higher than the 20.5 million that watched Obama's second inauguration in 2013.

However, that was far fewer than the 38 million that watched Obama's first inauguration in 2009 and the 42 million that watched Ronald Reagan's first swearing-in in 1981, casting further doubts about Spicer's claims of the "largest audience ever".

In his tweets, Trump also referred to Saturday's day of protests, when millions in the US and hundreds of thousands around the globe took to the streets in some 600 demonstrations against his presidency.

His initial tweet said he was "under the impression that we just had an election", asking: "Why didn't these people vote?"

A later tweet said that "peaceful protests are a hallmark of our democracy".

IMAGE: Press Secretary Sean Spicer deliver an statement at the press briefing room at the White House in Washington US. Photograph: Carlos Barria/Reuters

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