Shep Smith pummels Trump for 'belittling and delegitimizing' CNN's Jim Acosta
Fox News host Shepard Smith slams Donald Trump [Photo: Screenshot from video]

Fox News host Shep Smith defended CNN’s Jim Acosta against Donald Trump, arguing no “journalist should be subjected to belittling an delegitimizing by the president-elect of the United States.”

At a news conference Wednesday, Trump tore into Acosta over an explosive report CNN published Tuesday alleging ties between the former Trump campaign and intermediaries in the Russian government, charging him with reporting “fake news” and refusing to answer Acosta’s question. According to Acosta White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer threatened to expel him from the press conference for his line of questioning.

“President-elect Trump today told CNN's Jim Acosta that his organization amounts to fake news,” Smith said. “CNN’s exclusive reporting on the Russian matter was separate, and distinctly different from the document dump executed by an online news property,” he added, referring to the salacious and uncorroborated report published Tuesday by BuzzFeed.

“Though we at Fox News cannot confirm CNN's report, it is our observation that its correspondents followed journalistic standards, and that neither they nor any other journalist should be subjected to belittling and delegitimizing by the president-elect of the United States,” Smith continued.

Despite the distinction between CNN’s reporting that Russian operatives claim to possess information about the president-elect and BuzzFeed’s publishing of an unsubstantiated dossier on the incoming administration, Trump seemed to conflate the two at Wednesday’s press conference, denouncing any alleged connections between himself and Russia as “fake news.”

“It’s all fake news, it’s phony stuff,” Trump said. “It didn’t happen. And it was gotten by opponents of ours, as you know.”

“It was a group of opponents that got together—sick people—and they put that crap together,” he added later saying, “I think it’s an absolute disgrace.” The president-elect also took to Twitter to rail against BuzzFeed, “fake news” and U.S. intelligence agencies, while citing Russia's insistence that the reports are a "total fabrication":

Smith scolded Trump for “essentially [escalating] his own war with our intelligence services, likening their actions to those of the Nazis.”

Watch the clip below, via Fox News: