It was a scary and exhausting, and at the same time entertaining press conference. It was yet another historic moment for our President. It was the most talked about event not just in America, but throughout the world. It was also another instance in which we all realized that Trump will never be anything close to “presidential”, whatever that means.
President Trump blasted the mainstream media, saying the press and the level of dishonesty in the press is out “out of control”, as he launched into aggressive broadsides at individual journalists. He referred to the media as an entrenched “power structure” and vowed to go around it entirely. “We’re not going to let it happen. I’m here again to take my message straight to the people,” he threatened.
Every president fights with the press at some point. But the hostile dynamic Trump has established with his own press corps is without historical precedent. No president has ever declared war and given such a strong voice to that unhappiness in his very first days in office.
It is not the media that made the call to the Russians. It is not the media that apparently lied to Vice President Pence. It is not the media that prompted six Republicans to tank the labor secretary nominee. It’s not the media that ruled against the immigration ban. And yet all the while the President is isolating, accusing, distracting, demonizing and blaming the media for these things.
Trump’s obsession with the media is often dismissed as a sign of his poor temperament. But it’s also a political strategy that allows him to change the subject of debate from one of substance to matters of some kind of tribal allegiance.
The President's press conference was a spectacle that was sheer entertainment in spite of the fact that it was not terribly presidential. At times, reporters couldn’t help but laugh at the President’s jabs despite their best instincts, simply because Trump’s comments were just that wacky and bizarre. His interactions with reporters went beyond combative and stepped firmly into the Twilight Zone.
Some might focus on Trump’s statements on Russia or his attacks on the media. Others might focus on his outright lies and bizarre claims. But there can only be one takeaway from the press conference – Trump may have become president, but he will never be presidential. And there are still at least three years and 11 months left to go. This will not be a normal time for us.
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