President Donald Trump is once again taking his case right to the people of the United States and once again he got the unwitting aide of the press corps to help him do it. And even as the regular voters are cheering, the press is booing the whole thing.
Donald J. Trump won the White House not because the media loved him — as it did Hillary Clinton generally, but Barack Obama slavishly — but because he was able to both go around the media and use the media at the same time to take his message right to the American people. Trump again showed this amazing ability to slip around the media while using them at the same time in his Thursday press conference.
Donald Trump is uniquely able to speak to Americans like a “real person.” In other words, he does not come off as a smarmy know-it-all like Obama did nor does he seem shrew-like as Hillary so often did. In fact, he doesn’t seem like a “politician” at all. To Mr. and Mrs. America he comes off as a relatable figure. (Indeed, during his press conference he admitted as much when he said he is finding it hard to realize he is now a “politician.”)
With the media (and establishment Washington of both parties) clearly out to destroy him as opposed to merely reporting on his policies and administration, Trump instinctively understands that he needs to go around the media and take his case right to to the voters.
But, even with that being the case, the president cannily uses the very press he is “going around” as a vehicle to carry his message to the people. And this February 16 press conference was a perfect example of that canny ability to use the same hostile press corps to make his appeal free of the media’s habit of imbuing “the news” with its own opinions.
This presser was a great example of Trump using the press to bash the press.
The president covered such a number of topics that he clearly bewildered the press into a near catatonic state. But his main point throughout was to damn the press as hostile to him and his administration.
Early in the presser, Trump spoke about how unfair the media has been to his now former adviser General Mike Flynn.
The day before Trump had already insisted that he feels Flynn is a “wonderful man” and decried the “fake media” for how it mistreated the retired general. He also accused the press of helping insiders leak classified material.
During his praise of Flynn during Thursday’s presser, Trump even insisted Flynn did nothing wrong.
“What [Flynn] did wasn’t wrong,” Trump exclaimed. “What was wrong was the way that other people including yourselves in this room were given that information, ’cause that was classified information given illegally. That’s the real problem.”
“You can talk all you want about Russia, which is all fake news, fabricated deal to try to make up for the loss of the Democrats,” he added. “And the press plays right into it.”
Not only did the president insist that Flynn was perfectly right to be talking to Russia to suss out their intentions, but he added that if Flynn hadn’t talked to Russia, he would have order him to.