Kellyanne Conway may be the masterful spinmeister of our time, as Lili Loofbourow details, but she hasn't defended the White House's "alternative facts" on CNN since Jan. 11 — and that's on purpose, an unidentified White House official tells Politico. "We're sending surrogates to places where we think it makes sense to promote our agenda," the official said. A CNN reporter told Politico that President Trump is trying to hurt CNN's ratings because he doesn't like its coverage of him — which seems plausible, given Trump's multiple tweets and public comments about CNN. "They're trying to cull CNN from the herd," the reporter said.
You might think that by frequently harping on CNN and publicly lauding its conservative competitor Fox News, Trump is actually targeting MSNBC — lots of people don't like Trump, and they need to watch cable news, too. But Trump actually wants to hurt CNN, reports New York's Gabriel Sherman. "According to people close to both sides, Trump has told White House staffers that he feels personally betrayed by CNN chief Jeff Zucker." Trump and Zucker have known each other for more than a decade; Zucker, then at NBC, put The Apprentice on the air in 2004, and Trump has reportedly told White House staff he believes Zucker owes him better coverage because he helped Zucker get the job at CNN — which CNN sources say is false.
"This is entirely personal," a CNN high-level source told New York. "Trump thinks just because he's known Jeff that CNN should be covering him like Fox News does." White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer dismissed that, saying the idea that Trump is "sitting around worried about Jeff Zucker is a little ridiculous." If he wants to quash these scurrilous reports, Spicer could either accept Jake Tapper's invitation to come on his show or ask his boss to stop tweeting about CNN.