'That's a cheap shot.'
NBC News host Chuck Todd hit back at White House Trade Adviser Peter Navarro’s use of the term ‘fake news’ Sunday morning, calling it a “cheap shot” that takes aim at the First Amendment.
Todd made the remarks during a segment on NBC’s “Meet the Press” during which Navarro characterized the Washington Post as “fake news.”
Disputing a recent story in the Post about Chief of Staff John Kelly reportedly threatening to quit his job, Navarro took a jab at the newspaper, saying, “When you read stuff in the Washington Post, frankly, that’s fake news most of the time.”
“I think that expression is a pretty unfair thing about a major news organization,” Todd responded. “That’s a cheap shot.”
Navarro tried to defend his use of the term, arguing that it’s fair to call the Post “fake news” because its coverage is more critical of Trump than other newspapers.
“That is not a cheap shot,” Navarro said, “because if you look at the newspapers that I read every day across the spectrum, the Washington Post in my judgment tends to attack the president more than any other newspaper in its news stories.”
In defending his use of the term ‘fake news,’ Navarro inadvertently admitted what we already knew: It has nothing to do with the accuracy of the reporting. As he stated, he only described the Washington Post as “fake news” because he doesn’t like the negative stories it runs about Trump.
And that’s exactly what makes it so dangerous. By using the term “fake news” to discredit legitimate reporting and ignore scandals they don’t want to deal with, the Trump administration has given other government officials — and other governments — permission to do the same.
Todd made that point Sunday morning, telling Navarro, “The term fake news is not exactly a way to hold up the First Amendment, especially when the Russian government just this morning is [using] that phrase” to discredit reporting about the chemical attacks in Syria.
Navarro’s attempt to defend the term caps off a week during which the Trump administration’s assault on the First Amendment reached a startling new level. In their eyes, the problem is not the unprecedented incompetence, corruption, and chaos in the Trump White House — the problem is that we know about it.