To anyone other than those who are card carrying members of Trump’s frenetic MAGA cult, President-elect Trump’s first press conference in nearly seven months was both bizarre and contentious.
Trump began the event talking about the story that commanded the news cycle for the day, regarding unsubstantiated reports that Russia was blackmailing the candidate, based on some lewd pee-fetish video.
He also wanted to use the opportunity to further impugn the reputation of the press, who, frankly, do quite a bit to shoot themselves in the foot.
That part should have been expected. Trump has spent the last year and a half painting the press and anyone that dare treat him with the same level of scrutiny as the mere mortals that run for public office as if they were society’s enemies.
As Politico reports, however, with Trump, it’s always about the illusion.
On Wednesday morning, when the president-elect once again faced hundreds of reporters from around the globe gathered in his lobby — this time for his first press conference in seven months — Trump filled the room with paid staffers who clapped and cheered as he blasted members of the media as purveyors of “fake news.”
The Greek chorus of loyal, paid staffers in the back of the room boosting Trump with their hoots and cheers also served as a reminder, of sorts, of the movement of Trump backers happy to take him at his word and jeer the media as the out-of-touch liars.
“It’s very familiar territory, news conferences,” said Trump, who has been more visible on Twitter than in person since Election Day, as he took the podium. His long absence was the media’s fault, he said, not his. “We stopped giving them because we’re getting quite a bit of inaccurate news,” he said, before calling Buzzfeed, the website that published the full 35-page unverified dossier of allegations against Trump, a “failing pile of garbage.”
Fake news for a fake crowd, I suppose. Trump reportedly employed the same method of having paid “supporters” gathered for his announcement to run for the presidency.
Yesterday wasn’t totally about Trump’s efforts to discredit a free press. He stepped aside and allowed his lawyer, Sherri Dillon, to announce his plans to turn over control of his real estate business to his two sons, Eric and Don Jr.
The event culminated in the president-elect attacking news outlets, Buzzfeed and CNN, then refusing to take a question from CNN’s Jim Acosta, saying, “I’m not going to give you a question. You’re fake news.”
Let’s get it straight.
CNN reported on the breaking story of the alleged Russian blackmail material, but they framed it in a way that would allow for the public to know this story was out there, though unsubstantiated.
They reported on it, responsibly.
I certainly wouldn’t call CNN unbiased. If Trump wanted to say they were a biased news source, as most news media is, and almost always in favor of liberal causes, then that would have been fair.
What Trump is doing, however, is much more dangerous.
I would say that the fanaticism of Trump’s devotees has surpassed that of Obama’s 2008 fawning fan base. They cling to his every word as absolute law, and they will not be reasoned with, if that reason contradicts the word of Trump.
Our founders did not intend for us to be a society that looked only to a single man as the source of all information and truth. Our forefathers actually fled from those kinds of monarchies.
Wednesday was an interesting look at what we may be able to expect from a Trump presidency. Perhaps actually being in the office and confronted with the actual duties of the presidency will temper Trump’s attitude.
We can hope.
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