CNN threw a right hook Tuesday in its ongoing slugfest with the Donald Trump administration, lashing out at White House press secretary Sean Spicer for essentially doling out fake news.
The latest installment of the feud began over the weekend, when Kellyanne Conway, one of Trump's top advisers, disputed that the cable news giant had taken a pass on having her as a show guest on Sunday because of credibility issues.
Spicer defended Conway at Tuesday's press briefing.
"Frankly, I think my understanding is they retracted that or walked it back or denied it, however you want to put it, I don't care," Spicer said. "I think Kellyanne is a very trusted aide of the president. I think for any characterization otherwise is insulting. If they choose not to work with someone, that's up to them."
CNN's communications department fired off a Twitter rebuttal post-haste, saying the network had been "clear, on the record, about our concerns about Kellyanne Conway's credibility" and pointedly adding, "We have not 'retracted' nor 'walked back' those comments. Those are the facts."
Team Trump has had an icy relationship with CNN for some time, memorably damning the network for peddling "fake news" after it ran a bombshell report detailing alleged blackmail-worthy information about the president held by the Russians. Conway herself recently stood accused of manufacturing a terrorist attack when criticizing the press.
The administration has wielded the "fake news" cudgel against unflattering coverage since the days of Trump's primary campaign against Democrat Hillary Clinton, gleefully demonizing the "crooked" press at large and even targeting individual reporters.
Judging from the latest White House reaction, it's not a tactic the administration seems likely to abandon immediately — even when confronted with facts.