The publisher of the New York Times has urged President Donald Trump not to continue labelling reporters “enemies of the people”, saying it could “lead to violence” against the media.
AG Sulzberger was reporting a meeting with Mr Trump at the White House.
The meeting was intended to be off-the-record but Mr Sulzberger said Mr Trump broke this with a tweet on Sunday.
In his tweet, the president said he had had a “very good and very interesting” meeting with Mr Sulzberger.
“Spent much time talking about the vast amounts of Fake News being put out by the media & how that Fake News has morphed into phrase, ‘Enemy of the People.’ Sad!” the tweet read.
The New York Times released its statement after Mr Trump tweeted, saying it had decided to “respond to the president’s characterisation of their conversation”.
Mr Sulzberger said he had accepted the meeting with Mr Trump to raise concerns about the president’s “deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric”.
He said he told Mr Trump that the phrase “fake news” was “untrue and harmful” but said he was “far more concerned about his labelling journalists ‘the enemy of the people'”.
“I warned that this inflammatory language is contributing to a rise in threats against journalists and will lead to violence,” he said.
Mr Sulzberger said he had told the president that this was particularly true in other countries, where he said Mr Trump’s rhetoric was being used by some regimes to crack down on journalists.
“I warned that it was putting lives at risk, that it was undermining the democratic ideals of our nation, and that it was eroding one of our country’s greatest exports: a commitment to free speech and a free press,” he said.
The New York Times publisher said he was not asking Mr Trump not to criticise his newspaper if he was unhappy with its coverage but asking him to “reconsider his broader attacks on journalism”.
When has Trump called journalists ‘enemies of the people’?
In February 2017 he tweeted that the New York Times as well as other outlets NBC, ABC, CNN and CBS were “the enemy of the American people”. He reportedly then used the phrase again during a conference the following week.
In June this year he again used the phrase on Twitter during the controversy over the short-lived US policy of separating migrant children from their families at the US border.
Earlier this month he responded to criticism of his meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in the same way.
New York Times tells Trump: Don’t call reporters enemies of the people