DONALD Trump condemned the media for “fake, fake disgusting news” as he unleashed a torrent of grievances at a campaign rally.

The US president was speaking in Pennsylvania, a state he took from the Democrats in 2016 and which is home to a Senate seat he is trying to place in the Republicans’ column this autumn. But the race between Republican Lou Barletta and two-term incumbent Democrat Bob Casey took a back seat to Trump’s invective against the media, which came amid a backdrop of antagonism to journalists from the White House and hostility towards the press from the thousands packed into a loud, overheated arena in Wilkes-Barre.

“What ever happened to the free press? What ever happened to honest reporting?” Trump asked, pointing to the media at the back of the hall. “They don’t report it. They only make up stories.”

Time and time again, he denounced the press for underselling his accomplishments and doubting his political rise. He tore into the media for diminishing what he accomplished at his Singapore summit with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un.

He complained about the tough questioning he received in Helsinki when he met Russia’s Vladimir Putin last month and attacked claims that he was late and overstayed when he met the Queen during his visit to the UK last month.

Trump said his secret service did not “believe in being late”, adding: “So I was about 15 minutes early and I’m waiting with my wife and that’s fine. Hey, it’s the Queen, right? We can wait. But I’m a little early. So I then go up and meet the Queen and she is fantastic. We then go up and we have tea. And I didn’t know this, it was supposed to last for 15 minutes, but it lasted for like an hour because we got along. We got along.

“And she liked our First Lady and our First Lady liked her and I won’t talk about conversation because you’re not supposed to ... but we got along fantastically well. And the time went by, you know like sometimes when you like somebody you get along – good chemistry – the time goes by. Honestly, folks, it was such a beautiful, beautiful visit and afternoon. But they can make anything bad because they are the fake, fake, disgusting news.”

Trump also seemed to have some difficulty in deciding what to call the country he visited. He said: “I have great respect for the UK, United Kingdom, great respect. People call it Britain, they call it Great Britain, they call it, they used to call it England, different parts.”

Trump began his rally speech with a 10-minute remembrance of his 2016 election night victory, bemoaning that Pennsylvania was not the state to clinch the White House for him only because “the fake news refused to call it”.

“They were suffering that night, they were suffering,” he said of the election-night pundits. He then promised that the Keystone State would deliver his margin of victory “next time”. “Only negative stories from the fakers back there,” the president said.

With each denunciation, the crowd jeered and screamed at the press in the holding pen. The inflammatory performance came hours after White House press secretary Sanders refused to distance herself from Trump’s previous assertions that the media are the “enemy” of the American people.

Pressed during a White House briefing, she said the president “has made his position known”. In a heated exchange with reporters, she recited a litany of complaints against the press and blamed the media for inflaming tensions.

“As far as I know, I’m the first press secretary in the history of the United States that’s required secret service protection,” Sanders said, accusing the media of continuing “to ratchet up the verbal assault against the president and everyone in this administration”.