Trump, NYT editor give contradictory versions of meeting

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Washington : US President Donald Trump and New York Times editor A.G. Sulzberger on Sunday got involved in an exchange of comments and denials concerning the White House's regular attacks on the press.

The President launched the exchange on Sunday morning when he revealed in a tweet a meeting he had held with the journalist on July 20.

"Had a very good and interesting meeting at the White House with A.G. Sulzberger, Publisher of the New York Times. Spent much time talking about the vast amounts of Fake News being put out by the media & how that Fake News has morphed into phrase, 'Enemy of the People'. Sad!" Trump said on Twitter.

Even before he became President, Trump had frequently publicly criticized media outlets that did not report favourably on him and had regularly taken to the social networks to attack journalists after they published stories he did not like, Efe reported.

With his Sunday morning tweet, the billionaire, however, seemed to insinuate that Sulzberger, the editor of one of the dailies that has been most critical of his presidency, agreed with his opinion that some media outlets publish "fake" stories with the sole objective of harming him and his agenda.

The editor's response, however, came a couple of hours later in the form of a statement in which he provided his version of the White House meeting.

"I told him that although the phrase 'fake news' is untrue and harmful, I am far more concerned about his labeling journalists 'the enemy of the people,'" Sulzberger said.

"I warned (Trump) that this inflammatory language is contributing to a rise in threats against journalists and will lead to violence," he added.

The New York Times editor also did not hesitate to deny Trump's claim that it was other people who had first began refering to the press as "the enemy of the people," given that it was the president himself who first used the term at the beginning of his mandate.

It seems to be no coincidence that Trump tweeted on the subject at this time, since this past week the White House has had to face significant criticism for its decision to deny access to a press conference to a CNN journalist who, minutes earlier in the Oval Office, had fired a series of questions at Trump that obviously had made the president uncomfortable.

The ban led the White House Correspondents Association - and even Fox News - to join the criticism of the administration's move and express their solidarity with CNN.