Donald Trump has launched a wide-ranging and at times incoherent attack on the media, accusing journalists of deliberately lying and saying leaks about his administration’s ties to Russia were “real” but the news was “fake”.
In a rambling and chaotic news conference in Washington, the US President repeated his accusation that reporters were "dishonest" and had spread misinformation about his first month in power.
But his statement appeared to be entirely contradictory, and prompted fierce questioning from reporters in the audience.
"The leaks are absolutely real, the news is fake, because so much of the news is fake," Mr Trump said.
The attack on the media appeared to be pre-meditated and came after a torrid few days for the President, amid mounting pressure over his and his team's links to Russia.
He insisted he could handle a bad story "better than anybody" but only if it was true and said he would make a "pretty good reporter".
Asked by a CNN reporter for clarification on the apparently mixed message of "real" leaks but "fake" news, Mr Trump replied: “The reporting is fake. The public read newspapers, they see television. They don’t know if it is true or false because they are not involved.
"But I am involved, so I know when you're telling the truth and when you’re not.”
The Republican billionaire, visibly agitated, clashed with journalists throughout the lengthy question and answer session, telling the room, "quiet, quiet, quiet", at one point and instructing a reporter to sit down mid-sentence.
He also took aim at the BBC, after the broadcaster’s North America Editor Jon Sopel was chosen to ask a question.
“Here’s another beauty,” Mr Trump said. “It’s a good line. Impartial, free and fair”, the BBC reporter replied.
“Yea, sure, just like CNN,” the President responded.
However, he insisted he was “actually having a very good time” and described reporters at Fox News, a conservative-leaning broadcaster, as “very honourable people”.
“I’m not ranting and raving I love this, I’m having a good time,” Mr Trump said, adding that he was changing his mantra of “fake news” to “very fake news”.
“I know when you’re telling the truth and when you’re not," he said.
“I just see many, many untruthful things, and you know what else I see, I see tone, you know the word tone.
“The tone is such hatred. I’m really not a bad person by the way.”
Questioned on whether he was undermining the freedom of the press by calling stories he did not like "fake news", Mr Trump responded: “I know when I should get good and get bad, and sometimes I’ll say, ‘Wow, that’s going to be a great story’, and I get killed.
"I know what is good and bad, I’d be a pretty good reporter.”
He added: "There is nobody I have more respect for, well maybe a little bit, than reporters, good reporters. It’s very important to me, especially in this position, it’s very important.
"I don’t mind bad stories, I can handle a bad story better than anybody, as long as it’s true.
The controversial orders Donald Trump has already issued
The controversial orders Donald Trump has already issued
1/9 Trump and the media
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer takes questions during the daily press briefing
2/9 Trump and the Trans-Pacific Partnership
Union leaders applaud US President Donald Trump for signing an executive order withdrawing the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations during a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington DC. Mr Trump issued a presidential memorandum in January announcing that the US would withdraw from the trade deal
3/9 Trump and the Mexico wall
A US Border Patrol vehicle sits waiting for illegal immigrants at a fence opening near the US-Mexico border near McAllen, Texas. The number of incoming immigrants has surged ahead of the upcoming Presidential inauguration of Donald Trump, who has pledged to build a wall along the US-Mexico border. A signature campaign promise, Mr Trump outlined his intention to build a border wall on the US-Mexico border days after taking office
4/9 Trump and abortion
US President Donald Trump signs an executive order as Chief of Staff Reince Priebus looks on in the Oval Office of the White House. Mr Trump reinstated a ban on American financial aide being granted to non-governmental organizations that provide abortion counseling, provide abortion referrals, or advocate for abortion access outside of the United States
5/9 Trump and the Dakota Access pipeline
Opponents of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines hold a rally as they protest US President Donald Trump's executive orders advancing their construction, at Columbus Circle in New York. US President Donald Trump signed executive orders reviving the construction of two controversial oil pipelines, but said the projects would be subject to renegotiation
6/9 Trump and 'Obamacare'
Nancy Pelosi who is the minority leader of the House of Representatives speaks beside House Democrats at an event to protect the Affordable Care Act in Los Angeles, California. US President Donald Trump's effort to make good on his campaign promise to repeal and replace the healthcare law failed when Republicans failed to get enough votes. Mr Trump has promised to revisit the matter
7/9 Donald Trump and 'sanctuary cities'
US President Donald Trump signed an executive order in January threatening to pull funding for so-called "sanctuary cities" if they do not comply with federal immigration law
8/9 Trump and the travel ban
US President Donald Trump has attempted twice to restrict travel into the United States from several predominantly Muslim countries. The first attempt, in February, was met with swift opposition from protesters who flocked to airports around the country. That travel ban was later blocked by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The second ban was blocked by a federal judge a day before it was scheduled to be implemented in mid-March
SANDY HUFFAKER/AFP/Getty Images
9/9 Trump and climate change
US President Donald Trump sought to dismantle several of his predecessor's actions on climate change in March. His order instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to reevaluate the Clean Power Plan, which would cap power plant emissions
"And over a course of time I’ll make mistakes, but I’m not OK when it’s fake.
"I watch CNN, there is so much anger and hatred, I don’t watch it anymore.
"I think it [news] should be straight, I think it would be frankly more interesting….they’d actually be better.
"You [journalists] have a lower approval rating than congress, I think that’s right."Reuse content