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Trump Launches Attack on Unnamed Press Sources

President Donald Trump said media organizations should name names or sources as his White House holds background briefings with no names attached.
Image: Donald Trump
President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Friday, Feb. 24, 2017, in Oxon Hill, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)Alex Brandon / AP

President Donald Trump blasted the media again Friday morning, dedicating the first 13 minutes of his speech to the annual Conservative Political Action Conference to criticizing the press and its sources.

The president repeated his claim that the press is often "the enemy of the American People" and demanded that reporters stop using unnamed sources — which the president claims don't exist.

"They have no sources they just make them up when there are none," Trump told the at-capacity CPAC crowd who cheered him in agreement. "They shouldn't be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody's name. Let their name be put out there."

The president's demand for reporters to name sources came just hours after White House officials held a briefing with reporters to discuss Chief of Staff Reince Preibus' conversations with FBI officials regarding a New York Times story about Trump campaign communications with Russia. Administration officials in that briefing agreed to only be quoted on background, not identified by name.

Related: Trump Aide Reince Priebus Asked FBI to Knock Down Russia Stories

While Trump pressed for named sources as the standard for reporters, he has not actually met that standard himself.

Trump has used unnamed sources multiple times on Twitter, specifically to bolster his birther campaign against former President Barack Obama. In the final months of the 2016 campaign, Trump conceded that "President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period," but took no questions about why he changed his mind on the issue and why he pushed the conspiracy theory in the first place.

In 2012, Trump alleged that Obama's birth certificate was "a fraud" — providing no evidence other than the information of "extremely credible sources."

The president's sources weren't used only in relation to the president's birth certificate, but to call the system "rigged" when "sources" announced that no charges would be brought by the FBI against Hillary Clinton.

But within weeks, Trump was again lashing out against unnamed sources — advising his Twitter followers in September 2016 "DO NOT believe" stories that cite "source."

Hours later he added: "if they don't name the sources, the sources don't exist."

Bringing the point home Friday to the CPAC crowd, Trump painted the media as "very smart, very cunning, and very dishonest" and advocated for exposing "their false stories."

"No one loves the First Amendment more than me," the president said before again making an us-versus-them claim that media corporations "have their own agenda and its not your agenda."

"We're gonna do something about it," Trump vowed.