OSAKA, Japan – President Donald Trump expressed exasperation with the media in a conversation with Vladimir Putin on Friday and spoke approvingly of the fact that the Russian president does not have the same problems with the media that he has.
The president's remarks drew blowback on social media from critics who noted that journalists in Russia have been killed.
"Fake news," Trump said during a meeting with Putin at the G-20 summit in Japan as journalists filled into the room to cover the leaders' remarks. "You don't have this problem with Russia, We have. You don’t have it."
Putin responded in English, according to a raw video feed of the exchange.
"Yes, yes," he said. "We have, too. The same."
Trump has for years blasted U.S. media as "the enemy of the people." Still, the praise for the Russian president on the point was a remarkable comment for a U.S. president. More than three dozen journalists have been murdered in Russia since 1992, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Trump made the comments on the one-year anniversary of a shooting at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, in which five were killed.
Minutes after the exchange, Trump and Putin joked about Russian meddling in the 2016 election. When a reporter asked if the president would raise that issue during their meeting, Trump turned to Putin and wagged a finger while smiling.
"Don't meddle in the election, president," Trump said in a joking manner.
When an interpreter translated Trump's "request," Putin laughed.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'You don't have this problem': Trump vents to Putin about frustration with reporters