Fox News’ Shepard Smith Defends CNN Against Donald Trump’s ‘Belittling’

Donald Trump press conference
AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Fox News anchor Shepard Smith, speaking for the network, took issue with President-elect Donald Trump’s attack on CNN reporter Jim Acosta during Wednesday’s press conference.

“CNN’s exclusive reporting on the Russian matter was separate and different from the document dump executed by an online news property,” Smith said on the air on Wednesday. “Though we at Fox News cannot confirm CNN’s report, it is our observation that its correspondents followed journalistic standards, and that neither they nor any other journalist should be subjected to belittling and delegitimizing by the president-elect of the United States.”

Trump refused to answer Acosta’s question and called CNN “fake news.” Later, Acosta said that Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, threatened to have him removed from the press conference if he continued to ask Trump a question.

Trump’s anger was over allegations that Russian agents had gathered compromising information about him — claims that have not been verified. On Tuesday, CNN reported that intelligence officials had included a two-page summary of the claims in an intelligence briefing given to Trump and President Barack Obama. Soon after CNN’s story was published, BuzzFeed posted what it said was the 35-page, unverified dossier on which the two-page summary was based.

While Trump lashed out at CNN and BuzzFeed, CNN defended its reporting, issuing a statement in which it said that “CNN’s decision to publish carefully sourced reporting about the operations of our government is vastly different than Buzzfeed’s decision to publish unsubstantiated memos. The Trump team knows this. They are using Buzzfeed’s decision to deflect from CNN’s reporting, which has been matched by the other major news organizations.”

Meanwhile, some journalism watchdogs are calling out other members of the media for not coming to Acosta’s defense during the press conference.

Pete Vernon wrote in Columbia Journalism Review that journalism “is a competitive business, but it’s not a zero-sum game. We all campaign for scoops, access, and sources, but we are, effectively, on the same side. If Trump ignores or blacklists outlets he deems hostile, and others in the industry don’t defend them, the public loses out on the perspective those reporters bring, and we as an industry lose out in our efforts to hold power accountable.”