US & Canada

'Least racist person' Trump stirs row with reply to black reporter

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Media captionMr Trump and an African-American journalist had an exchange in Thursday's news conference

It was an unusual press conference, hastily organised after President Donald Trump apparently told his staff that he wanted to address reporters.

The exchanges were ferocious, mainly attacking the media, whose dishonesty, he said, was out of control.

It included the moment when he told an African-American journalist to set up a meeting between him and a group of black lawmakers, suggesting that they knew each other.

It started when April Ryan asked the president about including the Congressional Black Caucus in discussions about issues related to the African-American community.

Ms Ryan, who is White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief for American Urban Radio Networks, first used the group's acronym CBC, but Mr Trump apparently did not recognise it.

Then he asked her: "Do you want to set up the meeting? Are they friends of yours?"

"No, no, I'm just a reporter", she answered.

The exchange came minutes after Mr Trump said he was the "least racist person".

Image copyright Twitter - @aprildryan

The CBC expressed dismay at Mr Trump's comments. Democratic Congressman Jim Clyburn of South Carolina says they contained "an element of disrespect", according to the Associated Press.

Some of the group's members shared their reactions on social media, along with President Obama's national security adviser and former US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice.

Image copyright Twitter - @repcleaver
Image copyright Twitter - @repbeatty
Image copyright Twitter - @susanrice

Mr Trump finished his answer by accusing Democratic representative Elijah Cummings, a senior member of the caucus, of being told not to meet with him.

But CBC said on Twitter it had sent a letter to Mr Trump before his inauguration, but that it had never got a response.

Image copyright Twitter - @OfficialCBC

After the news conference, Ms Ryan gave TV interviews in which she said she did not feel insulted by the president's remarks - and that she was "old school" and not supposed to be in the news.

Later, she came back to Twitter to announce that a meeting between Mr Trump and the CBC might take place, although no date had been set.

Image copyright Twitter - @aprildryan

But by then, Mr Trump's comments had created a wave of responses from social media users.

Image copyright Twitter - @thenoahkinsey
Image copyright Twitter - @emcp_

This was not the only awkward moment of the press conference.

Mr Trump had a long exchange with Jim Acosta from CNN, which he again described as "fake news", called the BBC "another beauty", and told reporter Jake Turx, from Jewish publication Ami Magazine, to sit down after he asked a question about anti-Semitism.

In that exchange, which came before Ms Ryan asked her question, Mr Trump said: "Number one, I am the least anti-Semitic person you've ever seen in your entire life. Number two, racism, the least racist person."

He then interrupted Mr Turx - "Quiet, quiet, quiet" - and accused his opponents of some of the anti-Semitic acts.

Image copyright Twitter - @Jaketurx

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