Defense Secretary Mattis breaks with Trump on declaring that media are ‘enemy of the American people’ – Los Angeles Times
Defense Secretary James N. Mattis said Sunday that the media is not the “enemy of the American people,” refusing to align with President Trump’s startling declaration last week.
âIâve had some rather contentious times with the press,â he said in response to a question about whether he saw the media as an enemy. “But no, the press is a constituency — as far as Iâm concerned — that we deal with and I donât have any issues with the press, myself.”
On Friday, TrumpÂ tweetedÂ that the âfake newsâ media was an “enemy of the American people.” An initial tweet mentioning CNN, the New York Times, NBC andÂ “many more” was deleted and reposted, expanding the list to includeÂ ABCÂ and CBS.
Trump repeated the attack Saturday before thousands of cheering supporters in Melbourne, Fla., when he blamed the media for undermining his administration.
âI also want to speak to you without the filter of the fake news,â Trump said at the rally. âTheyâve become a big part of the problem. They are part of the corrupt system.â
The fledgling Trump White House has been besieged with setbacks, including the resignation of Trump’s national security advisor, Michael Flynn, after just three weeks amid a deepening controversy over Russian interference in the U.S. government.
In response, Trump has declared a new round of battle with journalists. HeÂ called the media “fake” roughly 20 times Thursday in a rambling 77-minute news conference that also took aim at leaks from the intelligence community of classified information about Flynnâs secret talks with a Russian ambassador in December, while the Obama administration was still setting U.S. foreign policy.
Mattis insisted that the upheaval in the administration was not debilitating.
âWelcome to democracy,â he said. âItâs at times wildly contentious. Itâs at times quite sporting, but the bottom line is this is the best form of government that we can come up with.â
Gen. Tony Thomas, commander of the U.S. militaryâs Special Operations Command, said at a military conference on Tuesday that the chaos should stop.
âOur government continues to be in unbelievable turmoil,â he said. “I hope they sort it out soon because weâre a nation at war.â
When asked about those comments,Â Mattis said that Thomas was âtaken a bit out of context because we all want to see everything moving smoothly.â
âThe militaryâs job is to hold the line, and to hold the line, and to hold the line, while our government sorts out the way ahead, and our people speak,â he said.