Reaction to Trump: Like '2 Different Press Conferences'

Some see 'unhinged,' others 'relaxed and funny'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 17, 2017 5:13 AM CST
Media Fires Back at Trump After 'Bizarre' Conference
President Trump speaks during a news conference on Thursday in the East Room of the White House in Washington.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

President Trump ripped into the "dishonest" and "out of control" media during his press conference Thursday—and it didn't take long for the media to fire back. Fox News anchor Shepard Smith was among those who criticized the president, saying he "keeps repeating ridiculous throwaway lines that are not true at all and sort of avoiding this issue of Russia as if we're some kind of fools for asking the question," the Hill reports. Smith said Trump "owes it to the American people" to answer legitimate questions liked the ones about Russia that he dismissed as "fake news." But not all the reviews were so negative. A look at coverage:

  • Yes, he was "combative," observes Mara Liasson at NPR, "but he was also funny and charming like he was with the press during all those years in New York as a fixture in the tabloids. ... I think that he will get a lot of credit for doing this. I think it will thrill his supporters."
  • The Washington Post fact-checks what it describes as 15 "dubious claims" from the conference, including Trump's claim that he had the "biggest electoral college win since Reagan." Trump had a total of 304 electoral college votes, which ranks sixth in the eight elections since Reagan's 525-vote 1984 landslide. Only George W. Bush won with fewer than Trump. "I was given that information," Trump said when a reporter challenged him on the statement.
  • The AP takes a close look at Trump's "I inherited a mess line" and decides the claim itself is messy.

  • CNN contributor Jeffrey Lord, reacting to scathing reviews: “Lord, I think we saw two different press conferences," he said, per Raw Story. "From my perspective, I thought he was relaxed, he was funny, he was on point. He took the whole issue of the media, and he had a very candid conversation."
  • Politico has an exhaustive list of the topics Trump covered during the 77-minute presser, ranging from nuclear holocaust to CNN, which he downgraded from "fake news" to "very fake news."
  • BuzzFeed has video of one of the conference's most heavily commented upon moments: when Trump asked a black reporter if she could set up a meeting between him and the Congressional Black Caucus.
  • Presidential historians tell the AP that no president, including Nixon during the Watergate scandal, has publicly turned on the press the way Trump did. "It was bizarre theater," says Rice University history professor Douglas Brinkley. "He turned a presidential press conference into a reality-TV show in which he can be the star and browbeat anyone who objects to him with the power of his office."
  • GOP strategist and CNN contributor Alice Stewart also found a few things to praise in Trump's performance. "You can't say he's not responsive to the press," she tells the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "He answered all the questions from all over the press corps and put to rest the long-standing dialogue that he shuts down certain news outlets."
  • Vox lists nine moments that it suggests back up Jake Tapper's description of the press conference as "wild" and "unhinged," including Trump's claim that "the leaks are real" but "the news is fake."
  • Late-night hosts approached the press conference as gleefully as a kid unwrapping Christmas presents, and the Washington Post rounds up some of their best lines. "My guess is he did it because he's mad and he just wanted to blow off some steam," Jimmy Kimmel said. "The tone of the press conference was like if your dad found a pack of cigarettes under your mattress."
  • David Graham at the Atlantic looks at the continual theme of complaint in the conference and wonders: Does Trump hate his new job?
(More President Trump stories.)

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