On February 16, 2016, President Donald Trump held his first solo press conference in response to the massive amounts of attacks and criticism on the effectiveness and integrity of his month-old administration. For more than an hour, Trump went out of his way to accuse the so-called “fake media” of purposely attacking his administration, with Michael Flynn’s contacts with Russia as an excuse.
The conference covered a range of various topics, including the Russian spy ship in international waters 30 miles off the U.S. coast and Flynn’s actions regarding Russian contact. The prominent theme of the conference was Trump’s belief in the dishonesty of the media. He persistently claimed the news stories of Flynn’s contacts with Russia to be “fake media”, and that he had “never seen more dishonest media than, frankly, the political media.” Trump directly addressed several news reports from various broadcasting networks, including CNN, CBS, NPR, and ABC.
There were several noteworthy points during Trump’s press conference, none of which received positive comments from the public. The first of which was when Jon Sopel from BBC identified himself as being from BBC, to which Trump replied, “Here’s another beauty.”
Trump’s tone of sarcasm continued throughout the press conference, and it was during a Jewish reporter’s question that much of the public viewing Trump’s conference online erupted in anger and disbelief. The reporter asked President Trump a question about antisemitic instances in the United States, and Trump accused the reporter of asking him a very difficult and unfair question when he was promised a “straight, simple question.” Trump then went on to publicly humiliate the reporter during the press conference, accusing the reporter of being a liar and relating this so-called deception to the broader “world of the media”.
A similar event occurred soon after, when American Urban Radio Networks journalist April Ryan asked Trump about a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus. Seeing that Ryan was African-American, Trump interjected her question, asking if she wanted to set up the meeting herself. The internet did not hesitate to leap at this moment, describing Trump’s reaction to April Ryan’s question as racist. The logic behind this accusation is that Trump seemed to have assumed that April Ryan had connections to the CBC just because she was African-American. Whether this is true or not is unknown.
Finally, the press conference also seemed to serve as a medium through which Trump could once again reassert the notion that he scored the “biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan”. However, this claim has since been proven to be incorrect, as Trump won with 306 electoral votes, whereas in 2008, Barack Obama won with 365 votes and George H.W. Bush won with 426 electoral votes in 1988. When pressed by a reporter regarding Trump’s claim, Trump defended himself by saying that he was given the information and that he had “seen that information around.”
While Trump’s first solo press conference marked a stepping stone in his administration’s history, it was also described as a very memorable moment in the United States’ history by several news broadcasting networks, albeit not in a good manner. Whether President Trump’s behaviour in the press conference continues on throughout his administration for the next four years is yet to be seen.
– Daniel Park (’17)
Featured Image: The Source