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In Black History Month 'Listening Session,' Trump Lashes Out At Media

President Trump, flanked by Omarosa Manigault and House and Urban Development Secretary nominee Ben Carson, holds an African-American History Month "listening session" on Wednesday.
Evan Vucci
President Trump, flanked by Omarosa Manigault and House and Urban Development Secretary nominee Ben Carson, holds an African-American History Month "listening session" on Wednesday.

President Trump used the occasion of a meeting with African-American supporters to launch into another attack on the news media Wednesday. At a photo op at the top of his meeting for Black History Month, Trump said that "a lot of the media is actually the opposition party," echoing a statement made by his adviser, former Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen Bannon, a few days ago.

"They really have to straighten out their act," the president said, adding, "We won so maybe they don't have the influence they think."

Trump singled out CNN, which he said he doesn't watch. "I don't like watching fake news," he said, adding, "Fox has treated me very nice."

In his remarks at an event billed as an "African American History Month listening session," Trump cited the erroneous — and quickly corrected — "pool" report on Jan. 20 that the bust of Martin Luther King Jr. that President Obama had placed in the Oval Office had been removed. Trump called it fake news and said "the statue is cherished."

He said he was proud of the National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall, where, he said, people can learn about King and abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass, whom he called "an example of somebody who's done an amazing job that is being recognized more and more, I notice."

Trump also likened his announcement last night of his Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, to introducing a new product in the marketplace, calling it "such a good launch." Trump said his nominee was "outstanding in every way. I think he'll be very well-received; it was a big evening, a very big evening."

Sitting next to Trump at the morning meeting was his nominee to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Ben Carson. Trump said heading up HUD is a "big job that's not only housing; it's mind and spirit."

Trump said his administration is "going to work very hard on the inner city" and that Carson will be "doing that big league, big time," adding, "that's one of his big things that he's going to be looking at."

Trump also returned to his election results, saying he "ended up getting substantially more than other candidates who had run in the past years."

Among those attending the meeting was Darrell Scott, pastor of the New Spirit Revival Center in Cleveland and, as Scott put it, a "black Trump supporter." Scott said he had been contacted by "some of the top gang thugs in Chicago for a sit-down." The gang leaders reached out to him, Scott said, because they associated him with Trump. "They respect you," Scott told Trump. "They believe in what you're doing."

Scott said the gangs want to "lower the body count" in Chicago, which has one of the nation's worst murder rates.

Updated Feb. 2 at 5 p.m. ET

Scott has since walked back his comments to Trump, after being criticized on social media. He said the "gang thugs" that had met with him were actually three community activists, including Corey Brooks, who endorsed Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and was appointed to the state's Tollway board.

Our original post continues:

Trump responded that what is happening now in Chicago "shouldn't be happening in this country," adding that if officials there don't act, then "we're going to solve the problem for them."

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Corrected: February 1, 2017 at 11:00 PM CST
Darrell Scott, whom we quote in this story, walked back his assertion about "gang thugs" a day later. We have added his subsequent comments.
NPR News' Brian Naylor is a correspondent on the Washington Desk. In this role, he covers politics and federal agencies.