We’re a day late and, like, at least four dollars short, but it took that long to digest just what really happened in the White House on Thursday.
The pundits picked President Trump’s press conference apart like vultures on a baby bunny, and nearly every single one of them said the presser was a dark day for America, a sad day for the Constitution, and, quite possibly, the last day of civilization as we know it (one talking head on CNN said the sun was sure to explode, which may have proved Trump’s point about “fake news”).
So, we let all the dust settle, and after scouring the entire internet to see reaction (hey, we do it so YOU don’t have to), there are two schools of thought on what went down in the East Room. Just two.
One: Trump took a big steaming dump on the Constitution, threatened to execute the Fourth Estate without a trial, and proved himself to be not only a narcissistic megalomaniac, but quite possibly a psychopathic nut job.
Two: Alpha-dog Trump exposed the lapdog media for their hyper-liberal bias (it was bloodier than expected), showed America that he is, in fact, going to make good on the campaign promises that got him elected, and he showed that he is large and in charge.
Those were the only two positions out there (and we know because we stayed up all night reading Twitter, both #TrumpPressConference and #OhMyGodIThinkThePresidentMightBeInsane). In our tally, 65,853,625 people found the press conference a complete whiff, while 62,985,106 people thought Trump hit it out of the park. Yes, the breakdown was exactly the same as the numbers who voted for Trump and Hillary Clinton in November.
CNN, which got spanked like a kid who used his dad’s Ferragamo Python Loafers to “ski” down the backyard mud hill, cried the loudest after the 80-minute visit to the woodshed. “It was a wild press conference,” said Jake Tapper. “He said things that were not true,” he pouted. Then The Tap sputtered, “It was unhinged, it was wild,” before bursting into tears and running from the studio.
The belligerent questions gave a clear window into the minds of the media, who collectively believe that Trump is unfit for office.
Fox News’ Shepherd Smith also got his undies in a wad.
“It is crazy what we are watching every day, it is absolutely crazy,” Smith said. “He keeps repeating ridiculous throwaway lines that are not true at all and sort of avoiding this issue of Russia as if we are some kind of fools for asking the question.”
Scott Pelley of CBS News, in his most anchor-like, Walter Cronkite impression, said: “Today, we learned the length of the president’s fuse: 28 days.”
But that’s not really what happened.
There has been a war between Trump and America’s media from the moment he announced he was running for president. With a rag-tag army of misfits, badly outgunned, Trump fought—and defeated—the heavily armed mainstream media, which was forced to flee into the hills and regroup. That media limped down on Thursday, and Trump picked them off one by one.
“Well, the failing New York Times wrote a big, long front-page story yesterday. And it was very much discredited, as you know. It was—it’s a joke,” Trump said in answer to the third question. [The] Wall Street Journal did a story today that was almost as disgraceful as the failing Times’ story yesterday,” he added, aiming a little friendly fire toward his own camp.
But he saved his armor-piercing bullets for CNN, once again weakly represented by Jim Acosta. With everything else going on in the first three weeks of Trump’s presidency, Acosta immediately sought to set the record straight—on Barack Obama. Trump had said during his opening that he had the widest electoral margin since Ronald Reagan, and Acosta just couldn’t stand the thought of BO getting so badly dissed.
“In fact, President Obama got 365 in 2008,” Acosta said, then, off-camera, went “nyah nyah nyah.”
It was almost too perfect. Was it planned in the Trump White House? Who knows. But Trump’s misstatement—he didn’t have the largest margin since Reagan—actually prompted the media to defend Obama. The error was also the first thing mentioned by ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos after the presser ended.
Trump smashed the questioners for more than an hour. They asked loaded questions, packed with anger and always an air of condescension (“How dare you come into our house and try to run the show!?” they all but screamed).
Like this: “If I may ask you, sir, it sounds as though you do not have much credibility here when it comes to leaking if that is something that you encouraged in the campaign.” And this, from Acosta: “Aren’t you concerned, sir, that you are undermining the people’s faith in the First Amendment freedom of the press, the press in this country when you call stories you don’t like ‘fake news’?” And, of course, this, from a “beauty” of a reporter from the BBC: “On the travel ban, would you accept that that was a good example of the smooth running of government, that fine-tuned—Were there any mistakes in that?”
The belligerent questions gave a clear window into the minds of the media, who collectively believe that Trump is unfit for office and, just maybe, stole the election with the help of the Russians. They have decided that they will not put up with an illegitimate president, and they know that their viewers will find their combative stance to be perfectly fine, even justified—for liberals, the ends always justify the means.
But after they left the woodshed, their tushes still smarting from being spanked, they no doubt realized that Trump had, once again, prevailed. He dissected their stories, called out the incessant tone of “anger” and “hatred,” and clearly enunciated his view that the Trump White House is running just fine, thank you very much.
The sanctimonious Chuck Todd, of NBC News, home of the king of fake news, war hero Brian Williams, went on a Twitter tear. “This not a laughing matter. I’m sorry, delegitimizing the press is unAmerican,” said Todd. Then, he pleaded: “Press bashing may feel good to folks but when it’s done by people in power, it’s corrosive. Take off your partisan hats for a second.”
But after all that, we’ll make Chuck a promise, as Americans. We’ll take off our partisan hats right after you take off yours. Deal?
Joseph Curl has covered politics for 25 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent at The Washington Times. He also ran the Drudge Report as morning editor for four years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter via @josephcurl.