Putin points at journalists and asks Trump 'are these the ones hurting you?' during press conference
'These are the ones,' Mr Trump replied
Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin kicked off their highly anticipated one-one-one meeting by trading disparaging comments about the reporters gathered to cover it.
At a photo op before their private G20 summit meeting, the Russian President leaned in to Mr Trump, gestured to the journalists in the room, and asked: "These are the ones hurting you?”
"These are the ones. You're right about that,” Mr Trump responded.
Mr Putin appeared to be commiserating with Mr Trump on complaints that the media is “attacking” him. The President has repeatedly accused the news media of reporting falsely on his administration, referring to them as “fake news” and “the enemy of the American people”.
The brief aside drew outcry from journalists, many of whom pointed to the Putin regime’s poor track record with the media. Almost 60 journalists have been killed in Russia since 1993, according the Committee to Protect Journalists. Most of these reporters covered topics like politics, corruption, and war.
Mr Trump himself has hinted at retaliating against journalists.
This week, the president retweeted a gif depicting him body-slamming a man with a CNN logo superimposed on his head. He also called a female journalist 'crazy" and "dumb as a rock," and accused her of "bleeding badly from a facelift". He has also reportedly suggested jailing journalists who leak classified information.
Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders has defended Mr Trump's actions by calling him “a president who fights fire with fire”.
"I think he’s been very clear that when he gets attacked he’s going to hit back," she said at a press conference.
Just 24 hours before Friday’s meeting with Mr Putin, the President mounted yet another attack on the American media, this time in a joint press conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda.
Commenting on a recent CNN article, Mr Trump claimed that the outlet had some “pretty serious problems”.
“They have been fake news for a long time. They’ve been covering me in a very dishonest way,” he said. “NBC is equally as bad, despite the fact that I made them a fortune with ‘The Apprentice,’ but they forgot that.”
Many felt the comments were in poor taste, especially following a speech in which Mr Trump had positioned the US as an example for the world.
“Potus disparaging abroad of US media dilutes respect for American democracy & gives license to autocrats to crack down on their own media,” tweeted Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations.
“A trashing of the American press corps and Intel community in Eastern Europe of all places,” added NBC’s Chuck Todd. “Could Putin have asked for anything more?”
Independent News Service