Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump criticized U.S. foreign policy and slammed journalists as “unbelievably dishonest” during a sweeping interview with Larry King on Russian state-owned television on Thursday.
Fresh off the candidate’s Vladimir Putin-praising appearance during Wednesday’s commander-in-chief forum, Trump called in to chat with King for a segment on RT America. King began the interview asking Trump what “surprised [him] the most about running for office.”
His answer: “the dishonesty of the media.”
“The media has been unbelievably dishonest,” Trump said. “I mean, they’ll take a statement that you make, which is perfect, and they’ll cut it up and chop it up and shorten it or lengthen it, or do something with it, then all of a sudden, it doesn’t look like as good as it did when you actually said it.”
This refrain has become a common one for the Trump camp, which has called the media “disgusting,” “corrupt” and “failing” over its coverage of his campaign. Until this week, that ire had extended to a blacklist for some outlets, including The Huffington Post, that were generally denied press credentials and unable to speak with him; the ban ended on Thursday.
Trump went on to criticize American intervention in Iraq (which he once supported) and told King he thought it was “pretty unlikely” that Russia was involved in the recent hack of the Democratic National Committee, despite American intelligence agencies suggesting otherwise.
The interview with King is the latest in an odd series of moves from the Trump campaign, which hasn’t tried to distance itself from the Russian leader. RT America is funded by the Kremlin, and its parent company, RT, is well known for holding pro-Russia stances.
Spokeswoman Hope Hicks said the interview was recorded with King ― who identified himself as “a good friend” of Trump ― as a “favor” meant to appear on the journalist’s podcast. But its ultimate airing on RT America had “nothing to do” with the campaign, she added.
“Mr. Trump recorded a short interview with Larry King for his podcast as a favor to Mr. King,” Hicks said in an email to HuffPost. “What Larry King does with the interview content is up to him, we have nothing to do with it.”
At the NBC candidates forum on Wednesday, Trump once again refused to denounce Putin and suggested the Russian leader was more effective than President Barack Obama.
“I think when he calls me ‘brilliant,’ I’ll take the compliment,” he told moderator Matt Lauer. “If he says great things about me, I’m gonna say great things about him.”
The statement was echoed by running mate Mike Pence just a day later.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who is still endorsing Trump, distanced himself from his party’s nominee on the issue, calling Putin “an aggressor” against U.S. interests. And Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton called such acclaim from a leading presidential candidate “unpatriotic” and “scary.”
“Bizarrely, once again he praised Russia’s strongman Vladimir Putin ― even taking the astonishing step of suggesting that he prefers the Russian president to our American president,” she said.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.