President Donald Trump repeated his recent attacks on the news media Friday morning during his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference, arguing that no journalists should be allowed to use anonymous sources in their reporting.
Trump, speaking to a crowd of thousands of supporters at the country’s biggest annual gathering of conservatives, accused members of the media of making up anonymous sources in their critical stories of Trump in order to make him look bad.
“I’m against the people that make up stories and make up sources. They shouldn’t be allowed to use sources unless they use their names,” Trump said. “There would be no more sources.”
WATCH: Trump on ‘fake news’ and information leaks
Reporters routinely allow sources to appear in stories anonymously if the subject matter is confidential or secret in nature, so the sources can avoid repercussions.
Trump specifically referred to a Washington Post story published this month in which nine current and former intelligence sources said former national security adviser Michael Flynn misrepresented his conversations with a Russian ambassador regarding U.S. sanctions levied against that country.
Trump said the nine sources were made up by the reporter who wrote that story.
“They make up sources. They are very dishonest people,” Trump said.
The president said nobody loves the first amendment more than he does, but he said reporters hide behind its protections to publish lies about him.
“Many of these groups are part of the large media corporations and they have their own agenda — and it’s not your agenda,” Trump said. “It doesn’t represent the people, it will never represent the people, and we’re going to do something about it.”
Washington Post responds
Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron responded to Trump’s comments almost immediately in a statement, standing behind the report and saying it has since been proven true by on-the-record reporting.
“The story led directly to the general’s dismissal as national security adviser. Calling press reports fake doesn’t make them so,” Barron wrote.
Several Trump supporters VOA spoke with after the speech said they agreed with the president in his belief that reporters make up fake sources to hurt him.
Hunter Dworksy, a former state director for the Trump campaign in Delaware, said Trump’s words and actions are routinely misrepresented by corporate media outlets like CNN and NBC, and Trump calls out those outlets because they undermine his biggest asset, which is his ability to connect with people.
“He [Trump] is a guy that is talking to you. He hits you right in the heart and that’s how he gets his message across,” said Dworksy.
Ariel Kohane, a Manhattan Republican official and member of the group Jews for Trump, said he is glad to have a leader who is willing to criticize reporters when he feels they have misrepresented the truth.
“We have to get the facts, and we have to call the media out on it,” he said.
Trump did specify that he didn’t think the entire media was “an enemy of the people,” but just the “fake news media,” which he said represents a smaller portion of reporters who actively misconstrue his words.
“In fact, in covering my comments, the dishonest media did not explain that I called the fake news the enemy of the people — the fake news,” Trump said. “They dropped off the word ‘fake.’ And all of a sudden the story became the media is the enemy.”
“America First’ agenda
Following his attacks on members of the media, Trump laid out his vision for the conservative movement, which he said represents the idea that “we are a nation that put, and will put, its own citizens first.”
WATCH: Trump on conservative agenda he says helped him win election
The crowd then broke out into a chant of “USA, USA, USA.”
Mexico border wall
Trump said the building of a border wall along the southern U.S. will start “very soon,” and that its construction is “way, way, way ahead of schedule.”
WATCH: Trump on building of wall to protect US border
Trump spoke briefly about his immigration policies, which he said are aimed at getting “bad people” out of the country — drug dealers and murderers, he said.
“We will not let them back in. They’re not coming back in, folks,” Trump said of those people deported under his new, stricter guidelines on illegal immigration. “If they do, they’ll have bigger problems than they ever dreamed of.”
Trump’s speech was the highlight of this year’s CPAC and gave the event a newly energized spirit, with Republicans in control of the White House and Congress for the first time in 10 years.
Pence stresses ‘promise keeping’ pledge
Vice President Mike Pence spoke at the event Thursday, telling a throng of fellow conservatives that the Trump White House is in the “promise-keeping business.”
In what sounded like a rousing campaign speech, Pence called his boss, President Trump, a man of “conviction, vision and courage” and said Trump is already delivering on the promises he made to the American people during the campaign.
Pence said the media and the Democratic opposition are still trying to dismiss Trump and the conservative movement. But he said this is the time to prove that conservative answers are the best answers for the country – more jobs, less taxes, a strong military and respect for the Constitution.
Earlier Thursday, in a rare public appearance, chief White House strategist Steve Bannon told conservatives they can expect a daily fight with the media and others in the “opposition.”
Bannon said the media opposes Trump’s “economic nationalist agenda,” warning that “every day is going to be a fight.”
Bannon was joined by Trump Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, who called the president a uniter of Republicans and conservatives of different beliefs, pointing to himself and the sharp-tongued Bannon as an example.
“And I’ve got to tell you, if the party and the conservative movement are together, similar to Steve and I, it can’t be stopped,” Priebus said.
His speech Friday marked the fifth time Trump has spoken at the annual conference, and was received by the crowd markedly better than in past years.
Trump made his first appearance at CPAC in 2011, at the time a well-known reality television star. He floated the idea of launching a presidential campaign during his speech, but succeeded in turning the crowd against him when he insulted Texas Congressman Ron Paul, a favorite for president among that year’s attendees.
“I like Ron Paul, he’s a good guy, but honestly he has zero chance of getting elected you have to win an election. And I tell you if I run and if I win this country will be respected again,” Trump said.
Trump didn’t end up running for president in 2012, and he skipped CPAC that year as well, but Trump did speak in 2013 and he used the opportunity to criticize failed 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for not running a more aggressive campaign.
In 2014 and 2015, Trump’s speeches previewed several familiar themes seen throughout his presidential campaign — attacks on Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton and pledges to “make America great again.”
“I think in 2016, you’ll probably be running against Hillary. I think it’s going to be a tough race, but I think that it’s going to be a race that by that time will be so bad, that the Republicans will likewise take that and then you can actually end Obamacare, which is a total catastrophe,” Trump said during his 2014 speech.