A top aide to President Donald Trump is blasting the news media as the "opposition," saying it should "keep its mouth shut" after being humiliated by failing to foresee his election win, according to an interview published Thursday.
The brazen rebuke to the mainstream media came from Stephen Bannon, Trump's chief White House strategist who before the election had headed the far-fight, pro-Trump Breitbart News.
The comments suggest no respite in the war against the mainstream media, which has been calling out the new president over false statements even as he accuses the press of being dishonest and biased.
"The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while," Bannon told the New York Times in a telephone interview.
"The media here is the opposition party. They don't understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States."
Bannon's comments appeared to escalate the White House campaign to discredit the press, and follow a statement from Trump last week which said journalists were "among the most dishonest people on earth."
"The elite media got it dead wrong, 100 percent dead wrong," Bannon was quoted as saying of the election, and said it was "a humiliating defeat that they will never wash away."
Bannon, asked about the credibility of White House spokesman Sean Spicer after a series of tense exchanges with reporters, turned the question back to the Times reporter
"The media has zero integrity, zero intelligence and no hard work," he said. "You're the opposition party. Not the Democratic Party."
Since the weekend, Trump has been embroiled in controversy over the crowd at his swearing-in, with both he and the White House overstating its size -- and dismissing conflicting evidence as biased against him.
On Monday, he told congressional leaders that as many as five million people could have voted illegally in November -- a claim backed by no public evidence.
Some analysts see a deliberate strategy of delegitimizing the press, in order to curtail future scrutiny of the new administration.