Ryan Says Press Has A ‘Right’ To Write Anything After Trump Attacks Media

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., left, answers questions during an interview at the Associated Press bureau in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said Thursday that he was a “constitutional conservative” when it came to the freedom of the press, but he avoided criticizing President Donald Trump’s recent attacks on the press.

Trump said Wednesday that it was “disgusting” that the press could write anything, and separately pondered challenging the broadcasting licenses of news networks with whose coverage he disagreed.

Asked about the comments at a press briefing Thursday, Ryan joked to the reporter who brought up Trump’s comments: “Are you from NBC?”

NBC News reported that Trump had expressed a desire to increase America’s nuclear arsenal by nearly 10-fold in a meeting with senior national security officials over the summer. Trump on Wednesday fiercely denied the report and suggested NBC News and other outlets invented anonymous sources, though he has been known to give reporters off-the-record tips frequently.

“Do you agree with the President’s interpretation of the First Amendment?” the reporter asked Ryan.

“I’m a constitutional conservative,” he responded. “I’m for the First Amendment. I don’t always agree and like what you guys write, but you have a right to do it. And I’m a constitutional conservative, and I’m just going to leave it at that.”

“Does it concern you that the President seems to disagree?” the reporter asked.

“This is how I see it,” Ryan said, before moving on.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.

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