Longtime White House correspondent April Ryan accused first lady Melania Trump’s spokesperson of "bullying" her and creating an “atmosphere of hate" during a war of words on Twitter over the weekend

By Tierney McAfee
May 28, 2018 01:23 PM
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Longtime White House correspondent April Ryan accused First Lady Melania Trump’s spokesperson of “bullying” Ryan and creating an “atmosphere of hate” during a war of words on Twitter over the weekend.

It all started when Ryan, a CNN contributor and the Washington bureau chief for American Urban Radio Network, tweeted a link on Saturday to a story from The Root titled “Is the Trump Administration Running a Child-Trafficking Ring or Nah? Follow Me Down the Rabbit Hole.”

The article criticizes President Trump for his habit of “spewing” unfounded or disproven conspiracy theories — including “pizzagate,” a fake news story claiming Democrats ran a child sex trafficking ring out of a pizza place in Washington, D.C. — while satirically serving the president a dose of his own medicine.

April Ryan and Melania Trump
| Credit: Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock; Katsumi Kasahara/AFP/Pool/Anadolu Agency/Getty

Stephanie Grisham, the first lady’s communications director, seemed to take the headline literally and took aim at Ryan in a tweet, asking: “If you’re a journalist w many followers & a @CNNPolitics contributor … is it ok to retweet any headline you want, regardless of if it’s true?”

“Remember,” she added, “ ‘The core purpose of a journalist is to research, document, write, & present the news in an honest, ethical, & unbiased way.’ ”

Ryan fired back with a tweet asking Grisham whether she even read the story.

“I guess not per usual. You and many in this admin work to discredit us in the press. What happens when you all tweet crazy stories. Where is the accountability there?” Ryan asked.

Grisham then faulted Ryan for tweeting out the headline without providing any context.

But Ryan stood her ground, replying: “Just reading headlines is not the story and you went after me for not knowing what the story was. Not cool!”

Ryan later blasted Fox News for its story about her Twitter exchange with Grisham, which included a list of criticisms against Ryan.

“That fake news story from FOX and your not reading the story just a headline creates an atmosphere of hate against me that leads to ugliness,” Ryan tweeted. “It has to stop!”

She also tweeted a link to a story from The Hill with the headline “April Ryan accuses Melania Trump’s spokeswoman of creating an ‘atmosphere of hate’ after Twitter feud.”

“Yes I did and this must stop today!” Ryan wrote. “People are not scared! Bullies are not to be tolerated, especially by me!”

Grisham did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

This isn’t the first time Ryan has sparred with a White House spokesperson.

Ryan has frequently butted heads with White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Earlier this month, Ryan accused Sanders of practicing “street politics” and targeting Ryan in press briefings after Sanders responded testily to one of the reporter’s questions.

Ryan told the Washington Examiner at the time: “Why is it I’m asking similar types of questions like all the rest of the room but she’s coming at me that way?”

Ryan also made headlines in March 2017 for an exchange she had with then-press secretary Sean Spicer in which he ordered Ryan, during a televised White House press briefing, to “stop shaking your head.”