During an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” John Bolton, national security adviser to President Donald Trump, rejected comparisons between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin and the suggestion that Trump’s attitude toward the media “contributes to the authoritarian effort to undermine the free press.”
Noting that Putin’s government jails journalists critical of the Russian state, Karl asked Bolton if Trump’s temperament toward the press is similar to Putin’s.
“And we hear President Trump — doesn’t he kind of contribute to that authoritarian effort to undermine a free press when we hear him brand legitimate news organization as fake, legitimate news stories as fake? Doesn’t that contribute to exactly the kind of undermining of the free press that we see out of Russia?” Karl asked.
Bolton’s response left nothing on the table.
“Of course not. Really, honestly, Jonathan, I think the question’s silly,” he said. “And don’t say I’m attacking freedom of the press. I just characterized your question.”
Bolton was scheduled to appear on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday, but was pulled by White House officials on Saturday. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the White House does not “reward bad behavior,” accusing CNN’s Jim Acosta of “disrespectful” behavior during a press conference with Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday.
Karl asked Bolton if it was “appropriate” to “deny a news organization access to a White House official because a reporter tried to ask a question at a press conference?”
“Look, in reality I don’t seek out the press, I don’t talk to them, I appear when I’m asked to and if I’m not asked to appear, I don’t do it. And I don’t communicate with them either as you could find out if you consulted your friends in the Washington press corps, whom I don’t communicate with,” Bolton said.