“My question was an effort to challenge the president’s central argument against a possible Democratic opponent by noting his own past gaffes,” Peter Alexander says
President Donald Trump finally found something nice to say about CNN — compared to NBC News.
When NBC White House correspondent Peter Alexander on Wednesday asked Trump about his confusing Dayton, Ohio, with Toledo, Ohio, following a mass shooting in the former city, the president launched into a rant decrying the credibility of NBC News.
“This guy is the most biased reporter, NBC. You know, I made a lot of money for NBC with The Apprentice, and I used to like them, but they are the most biased,” Trump said, referring to Alexander.
He continued, “You should be able to ask a question, same question, in a better way.”
Alexander had brought up Trump’s mix-up in regard to former Vice President Joe Biden, with Alexander asking if it was “fair game” for Trump to take swipes at the Democrat’s gaffes considering he’d made notable ones of his own.
“You said that the mass shooting happened in Toledo when it happened in Dayton, so is that fair game?” Alexander asked. (Trump made the mistake in a televised speech shortly after the shooting, saying, “May God bless the memory of those who perished in Toledo.”)
Trump seemingly ignored the specifics of Alexander’s question and instead continued to diss Biden, repeatedly saying the former vice president “doesn’t have it.”
Trump then kicked off yet another rant aimed at the media, this time starting with The New York Times, a favorite target, before circling back to lash out once again at NBC News. He insisted both NBC and the Times would be “out of business” in decades.
“I think CNN has more credibility than NBC News,” Trump said.
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Winding himself up, Trump then turned his attention to CNN, telling a reporter for the outlet, “Did you hear what I said? I said, ‘You have more credibility than this guy.’ And that’s not saying much. You know why? ‘Cause I don’t think you have very much credibility but I will tell you this: NBC, I think, has less credibility than CNN. That’s not saying much, but that’s the way I feel.”
The president had already responded to at least two dozen questions by the time he criticized NBC, including several from Alexander about potential Republican primary challengers and his desire for Russia to rejoin the G7.
Prior to being questioned about his Ohio slip-up, Trump had responded to Alexander as he did any other reporter.
The president has taken many a jab at Vice President Biden, who is a frontrunner to challenge Trump in the 2020 election.
“My question was an effort to challenge the president’s central argument against a possible Democratic opponent by noting his own past gaffes,” Alexander tells PEOPLE.
Still, Alexander says it’s his duty not to let Trump’s attacks affect his ability to do his job.
“The president’s regular attacks on me and my journalist colleagues are intended to undermine the work we do and to throw us off our game,” he says. “I’ve been brushed off, ignored or attacked more times than I can count. But that’s doing your job. Being a journalist doesn’t mean being popular; it means asking tough questions no matter who’s in power.”
• Reporting by ADAM CARLSON