During a recent meeting, White House Senior Adviser and Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner told an executive from Time Warner Inc., the parent company of CNN, that the Trump administration is upset with the network’s critical coverage of Trump, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
The WSJ, citing “a White House official and other people familiar with the matter,” reports Kushner told the executive — Gary Ginsberg, executive vice president of corporate marketing and communications for Time Warner — that the Trump administration is particularly upset with two CNN contributors, both of whom happen to be people of color.
“Mr. Kushner has taken issue with specific CNN contributors including Van Jones, a Democrat who served in the Obama administration, and Ana Navarro, a Republican strategist, who have each criticized Mr. Trump in harsh terms, the people familiar with the matter said,” the WSJ reports.
Both Navarro and Jones responded to the report on Twitter:
— Van Jones (@VanJones68) February 17, 2017
Really, Little Jared complaining about me cuz I get under President Daddy-in-Law's skin? Oh, baby boy, I'm so sorry. https://t.co/4W8Sh9sHxy
— Ana Navarro (@ananavarro) February 17, 2017
The WSJ’s report was published a day after one of the few black Republicans in the Trump administration was fired. Shermichael Singleton was dismissed from his role as a senior adviser to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson after it was revealed he’d written an op-ed critical of Trump’s rhetoric toward black voters and posted some related tweets.
And the WSJ story ran the same day Trump claimed to be “the least racist person” during a news conference — a claim he undermined less than 10 minutes later by asking a black reporter named April Ryan if she could set up a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus for him.
“Do you want to set up the meeting? Are they friends of yours? Set up the meeting,” Trump told Ryan. “Let’s go — set up a meeting. I would love to meet with the black caucus.”
During that same news conference, Trump, who has repeatedly slammed CNN as “fake news,” upped the ante by calling the network “very fake news.” CNN has been racing with the New York Times and Washington Post to report out details of team Trump’s scandalous and unexplained connections with Russian officials.
Trump is a fan of at least one black CNN contributor, however. During remarks he gave commemorating the start of Black History Month on February 1, Trump praised black GOP strategist and CNN contributor Paris Dennard, saying he’s “done an amazing job in a very hostile CNN community — he’s all by himself. Seven people and Paris. I’ll take Paris over the seven.”
During that same event, Trump made some puzzling remarks about African American heroes, infamously characterizing Frederick Douglass as “an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job that is being recognized more and more, I notice.” Douglass died in 1895.
Later that day, Press Secretary Sean Spicer had an even harder time stringing together a coherent response to a question about Trump’s Frederick Douglass remarks.
“Well I think there’s — I think he wants to highlight the contributions that [Douglass] has made. And I think through a lot of the actions and statements that’s he’s gonna make, I think the contributions of Frederick Douglass will become more and more,” Spicer told reporters during a press conference.
Racial implications aside, Mark Feldstein, journalism historian at the University of Maryland, told the WSJ that Kushner’s meeting with Ginsberg was unusual.
“Lord knows that every president has been angered by their news coverage, going back to George Washington,” Feldstein said. “But to engage in that kind of bare-knuckled tactics is extraordinary.”