Fox News anchor Shepard Smith on Thursday criticized President Trump for bashing reporters gathered at a lengthy Thursday press conference, calling on him to answer legitimate questions from news outlets.
"(Trump) keeps repeating ridiculous throwaway lines that are not true at all and sort of avoiding this issue of Russia as if we're some kind of fools for asking the question. Really?" Smith said. "Your opposition was hacked and the Russians were responsible for it and your people were on the phone with Russia on the same day it was happening and we're fools for asking the questions?"
Trump was repeatedly asked by reporters from different publications about reported conversations between his campaign aides and Russian officials. Trump blasted such stories as "fake news" and berated journalists.
"Russia is fake news. Russia — this is fake news put out by the media," he said at one point.
Trump maintained that he is not aware that any of his campaign aides had any improper communications with Russian officials.
"No sir," Smith continued. "We are not fools for asking this question, and we demand to know the answer to this question. You owe this to the American people. Your supporters will support you either way. If your people were on the phone, what were they saying? We have a right to know, we absolutely do and that you call us fake news and put us down like children for asking these questions on behalf of the American people is inconsequential. The people deserve an answer to this question at very least."
Smith also defended CNN reporter Jim Acosta, who pressed Trump for answers on several points. Acosta and Trump have frequently sparred at past press conferences. Thursday Trump said he was upgrading CNN from "fake news" to "very fake news."
Smith defended Acosta during the segment Thursday, calling him "an accomplished reporter, a guy I've never met, but a good reporter."
Jim Acosta thanked Smith for his defense in a tweet shortly after the segment aired.
During Thursday's press conference, Acosta told Trump, "Just for the record, we don't hate you. I don't hate you," as he prefaced his question for the president.
Trump shot back, “Ask [CNN President] Jeff Zucker how he got his job, OK?” adding that CNN’s ratings aren’t “good right now.”