Washington Post politics blogger Chris Cillizza writes that Donald Trump gets how much his supporters hate the news media, and used Thursday’s press conference to feed that hatred.
From the Washington Post (“Donald Trump delivers a series of raw and personal attacks on the media in a news conference for the ages“):
Donald Trump entered the East Room on Thursday reeling from a week filled with resignations, withdrawals and continued questions surrounding his campaign’s contacts with Russia.
What followed was an hour-long, full-throated attack on Trump’s favorite foil: the media.
“Many of our nation’s reporters will not tell you the truth,” Trump said.
“The press honestly is out of control,” Trump said.
“The level of dishonesty is out of control,” Trump said.
And that was before he even took a single question!
It was a return for Trump to what worked for him during the course of the 2016 campaign: A circuslike atmosphere in which he uses the media — and his supporters’ distrust of the media — as a sort of tackling dummy to re-center the narrative on ground more favorable to him. Trump didn’t just run down the media — although he did a lot of that — but he also mocked various outlets, reviewed shows on cable TV that he likes (and doesn’t), told reporters to sit down and be quiet, and critiqued the quality of the questions he was being asked.
There was a rawness to his attacks, a personal invective that seemed well beyond the typically antagonistic relationship that exists between the media and the president they cover.
Why do it? Because Trump understands something very important: For his supporters, the media represent everything they dislike about American society. The media is composed, to their mind, of Ivy-League-educated coastal elites who look down their noses at the average person, dismissing them and their views as stupid and ill-informed. For people who feel like their voices weren’t and aren’t heard in politics — or culture more broadly — the media is the perfect scapegoat.
The media were the ones who told you Obamacare was great. The media were the ones who didn’t report that Hillary Clinton got all the debate questions in advance. The media were the ones who said I couldn’t win. The media is lying to you now because they don’t want you to know all the good things I am doing.
And the truth is that Trump’s broadside against the terrible dishonesty of the media will leave lots of heads nodding around the country.
NYT editorial, For a Troubled President, the Media Is a Satisfying Target.