President Donald Trump says he thinks CNN’s Chris Cuomo looks like a “chained lunatic” on television. CNN’s Don Lemon is “perhaps the dumbest person in broadcasting” and CBS Late Show host Stephen Colbert is a “no-talent guy” who talks “filthy.”
Those were just some of the comments Trump offered over dinner Monday night when asked about the media he consumes as President of the United States. But he did little to hide his frustration, explaining that he had been surprised that the journalistic criticism had gotten worse after the campaign. He also said he had been working on tuning out news that is critical of him.
“I’ve been able to do something that I never thought I had the ability to do. I’ve been able not to watch or read things that aren’t pleasant,” he said, maintaining that he no longer watches CNN or MSNBC. “And it keeps you young.”
There was little doubt, however, that he remained acutely aware of what reporters and correspondents were saying about him. He has large flat-screen televisions set up in the Treaty Room in the White House residence and in his private dining room in the West Wing. He continues to have stacks of newspapers and magazines delivered to his office suite in the West Wing.
“Washington Post, New York Times, they’re really, really dishonest,” he said, before directly addressing the TIME reporters he had invited for dinner. “You people are quite dishonest in all fairness.” He said he used to watch MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough but no longer does. He also claimed to have helped CNN president Jeff Zucker, an old friend and business colleague, get his job at the network.
The one network he praised was Fox News, saying he watches their shows and is responsible for its ratings bump.
Spokespeople for MSNBC and CBS said the networks had no comment on the president’s criticism. A CNN spokesperson said, “His comments are beneath the dignity of the office of the President.” Trump’s claims about CNN’s Zucker have been repeatedly refuted by the executives involved.
Here’s an extended excerpt of his conversation with TIME:
Trump also brought up The Late Show host Stephen Colbert’s blistering and crude May 1 monologue, in which the comedian delivered an oral-sex joke about the president and Russian President Vladimir Putin: