Kellyanne Conway Returns to CNN, Apologizes for Fake "Massacre" Remark

Screengrab/CNN
Kellyanne Conway on CNN

Amid reports surrounding her credibility, Trump's senior adviser squared off with CNN's Jake Tapper over "fake news," falsehoods and the administration's treatment of the media.

After declining to have her on as a guest this weekend, Kellyanne Conway returned to CNN Tuesday afternoon to square off with Jake Tapper on live TV.

Earlier in the day, the cable network confirmed a New York Times report saying CNN passed on having President Donald Trump's senior adviser appear on Sunday's State of the Union over questions surrounding her credibility. The decision came on the heels of Conway, who also recently cited the phrase "alternative facts," referencing the nonexistent "Bowling Green Massacre" in three separate interviews when defending Trump's travel ban.

"I regretted it tremendously. I felt really badly about that and I apologized and I rectified," Conway told The Lead with Jake Tapper host. She then said she was happy to have raised awareness to the story even though she did it "inartfully."

"You cited a massacre that didn't happen, you said the media didn't cover it," Tapper replied.

"What I meant is the media didn't cover the masterminds," she said.

During the 25-minute, wide-ranging interview, Tapper pushed back on the Trump administration's claims of "fake news," overall treatment of the media and several falsehoods put out by Trump recently, including his Monday statement that the media underreports acts of terrorism in Europe.

In response to Trump's unsupported assertion, which included a list from the White House of 78 examples, Tapper aired footage showing dozens of CNN reporters covering the attacks on the list from the ground.

"Saying that we don't cover terrorism, that's just false," said Tapper, speaking on behalf of CNN and media worldwide. "It's offensive."

Conway credited CNN's coverage on many of the attacks with high causalities, but said Trump's message was that the lack of coverage of the other ISIL-inspired attacks contributes to a feeling that this is "the new normal."

Tapper rejected her "lovely spin" and said Trump claimed the media doesn't cover these stories "because we don't want to because we have some sort of agenda."

When the pair sparred off over the Trump administration's rampant spreading of the concept of "fake news," Tapper asked Conway frankly: "Are we fake news, Kellyanne? Is CNN fake news?"

Though Trump has himself referred to CNN as "fake news" on multiple occasions, Conway said she was answering on behalf of herself.

"No I don’t think CNN is fake news," she said. "I think there are some reports everywhere, in print, on TV, in radio, in conversation that are not well-researched and that are sometimes based on falsehoods."

Conway later described the "fake news" that she claims is aimed at the administration as "the presumptive negativity about us. It's always believing there's something negative, something nefarious."

She then added, "I know firsthand what it's like to have all the haters descend upon you."

Tapper said, "Every day there are these sprays of attacks, sprays of falsehood, coming from the White House."

Still, Conway said that despite her recently coming under fire in the media, she would like to extend an olive branch to the network.

"I'm now being attacked by the media, including networks that are familiar to you, and I’m just going to keep soldiering on," she said, stressing that changes have to come both ways. "What I would put as an olive branch out to you and your network is, how about more complete coverage?"

Shortly before Conway's appearance, CNN continued to fact-check the administration and reiterate their stance on Conway's credibility. 

"CNN was clear, on the record, about our concerns about Kellyanne Conway's credibility, to the New York Times and others," read a statement from the network's CNN Communications Twitter account after press secretary Sean Spicer claimed the network retracted their comments. "We have not 'retracted' nor 'walked back' those comments. Those are the facts."

Watch the full interview with Conway on CNN here.

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