CNN's epic clash with Donald Trump's spin doctor
IF YOU thought a Leigh Sales grilling was tough, check out this extraordinary sparring match between CNN and Donald Trump advocate Kellyanne Conway over Donald Trump Jr meeting with a Russian lawyer linked to the Kremlin.
It marks a new high point in the US President's war on the media, with Ms Conway using the platform to tear shreds off the 24-hour cable news network, which the President has branded the "Fraud News Network".
Host Chris Cuomo, who heads the station's breakfast show New Day, didn't take the attack lying down, repeatedly interrupting and discrediting Ms Conway in a tense exchange that stretches on for 35 bruising minutes.
In a segment that felt more like a police interrogation than an interview, the two talk over each other constantly - at one point for almost one continuous minute. The Today show this is not.
Ms Conway, a counsellor to the President, was invited on the program after Mr Trump's son admitted to meeting with the Russian operative in the lead-up to the US election.
Donald Jr has offered two different explanations for the meeting. He first said the meeting was to discuss the ban on Americans adopting Russian children. However, in a more detailed response on Sunday, he said the meeting was held because the Russian lawyer had dirt on Mr Trump's opponent, Hillary Clinton.
On CNN Monday morning, Ms Conway wasted no time in pivoting the discussion away from questions about Mr Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin and towards the credibility of the station, accusing it of "constantly vomiting" false reports about collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
"Aren't you the least bit reluctant if not embarrassed that you now talk about Russia more than you talk about America?" Ms Conway said.
She dismissed the story about Donald Jr, saying these sorts of exchanges were "standard operating procedure" during a campaign and that the June meeting amounted to nothing.
But Cuomo asserted that the meeting did present a "problem".
"It goes to one of the questions of this investigation, which is: Was Russia trying to get to your campaign for purposes affecting the election? And this is Don Jr's own statement about it, a statement which has changed now twice about what this meeting was," he said.
"That doesn't raise legitimate concerns?"
After a slight pause, Conway replied: "Chris, you keep on saying 'Russia'."
She later accused Cuomo of "trying to go viral with this nonsense".
CNN has been the main target of Mr Trump's fierce attacks on the mainstream media.
Three CNN staffers resigned last month after the station retracted a story alleging that the Congress was investigating a Russian investment fund with ties to Trump officials.
The news led to the President's extraordinary tweet of a doctored video of him wrestling the CNN logo.
During Monday's interview, Cuomo spoke nearly as much as Ms Conway, with the President's counsellor rolling her eyes more than once.
"I admire your moxie sitting there with the CNN chyron [logo] right near you talking about credibility issues," Ms Conway retorted at one point.
Later, when Cuomo was on a tear, Ms Conway cries out "Chris! Chris!" in an attempt to be heard, giggling to herself.
Cuomo said he had Ms Conway's "people yelling in my ear" to wrap-up the interview, but she was clearly keen to press on to get her point across about the media being biased against the President.
She said CNN had ignored Mr Trump's achievements, such as his lauded speech in Poland last week, his job-creating policies and the fact that Islamic State was retreating.
"You gotta treat this guy more fairly," she said.
"You gotta treat him more openly and honestly. The snarky looks, the furrowed brows, the rolling of the eyes from so many people on your panels - and you know it. You guys have made a business decision to be anti-Trump."
Donald Jr has explained that the Russian lawyer in the June meeting had information that Russian operatives were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Mrs Clinton.
"Her statements were vague, ambiguous and made no sense," he said in response to questions from The New York Times.
"No details or supporting information was provided or even offered.
"It quickly became clear that she had no meaningful information."
Donald Jr tweeted Monday afternoon that he was "happy to work" with the Senate Intelligence Committee on Russian interference in the US election.
White House spokesman Sarah Huckabee-Sanders told reporters on Monday afternoon that "Donald Jr did not collude with anybody to influence the election".