23/08/2017 06:46 SAST | Updated 23/08/2017 06:46 SAST

Trump Has A Harsher Condemnation For The Media Than For White Supremacists

President Donald Trump went after journalists during a campaign-style rally in Phoenix on Tuesday, arguing that the media were "dishonest" in their portrayal of his response to a violent white supremacist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The comments came during a meandering, 77-minute speech in which the president hinted that he would pardon controversial sheriff Joe Arpaio, threatened to pull out of NAFTA, and said he might shut down the government if Congress does not fund a wall on the Mexican border.

"The only thing giving a platform to these hate groups is the media itself and the fake news," Trump said, accusing the media "of trying to take away the history and our heritage."

"I really think they don't like our country. I really believe that," he added.

Trump reread some of his initial response to the deadly rally, notably omitting the phrase "on many sides," which he used to describe groups inciting violence in Charlottesville. Trump specifically called out antifa, an anti-facist group of protesters, suggesting his initial response to the violence at the white supremacist protest was directed at them.

He spent more than 10 minutes at the Phoenix rally rereading his three responses to Charlottesville, arguing that "the words were perfect."

"You know where my heart is," Trump told the crowd.

He went on to hurl often-repeated criticisms of The New York Times and The Washington Post, and specifically called out ABC's George Stephanopoulos. He lamented CNN's firing of Jeffery Lord, a contentious pro-Trump commentator. At one point the crowd began chanting, "CNN sucks."

Just after claiming his "movement is built on love," Trump motioned to journalists covering the event and paused while the crowd booed.

"I love all the people of our country," Trump said.

But he did have praise for Fox News, which he said had "treated me fairly," and particularly for Fox News host Sean Hannity.

Trump argued he's better than the journalists who cover him.

"I went to better schools than they did. I was a better student than they were," Trump said, referring to what he called the "elite" media, whom he referred to as "dishonest" and "bad people."

Developing... More coverage soon at huffingtonpost.com...