President Donald Trump used his press conference about his new labor nominee to launch an attack on the First Amendment by blaming the free press for reporting on his campaign’s Russia connections.
“We need unity,” Trump said just minutes before he began launching missiles at the First Amendment from the bully pulpit in an attempt to discredit the source of his Russian connections.
In the East Room of the White House, Trump called for unity and then devolved into a campaign type speech during a press conference that needed to stay on message if it were to work as a pivot. Trump left Alex Acosta behind as he stumbled his way through trying to silence the press.
“Many of our nation’s reporters will not tell you the truth,” Trump said. “The press is out of control. The level of dishonesty is out of control.”
Trump accused reporters of speaking “not for the people, but for special interests. The press has become so dishonest.”
Trump claimed that Reince Priebus has to put out “fake fires.”
Asked about Flynn, Trump said he asked for Flynn’s resignation, but Flynn did nothing wrong, “I don’t think he did anything wrong. If anything, he did something right.”
What went wrong with Flynn wasn’t Flynn talking to Russia, it was the media’s reporting on Flynn’s activities, Trump claimed.
Trump claimed the Russia stories were “fake news.” Later in questioning, Trump tried to explain that the leaks were real but the news is fake because the news is fake.
This was followed up later when Trump claimed that the tone was “such hatred.” He repeated this again, “the tone is such hatred. Fox and Friends are very honorable people… But they have the most honest morning show. The tone, the hatred, I mean.”
Trump complained about the “hatred and venom” from almost exclusive “anti-Trump” people. Trump said, “When I go to rallies they start screaming about CNN.”
Trump ranted about how the press was publishing classified information, which he said was illegal.
“I called, as you know, Mexico… All of a sudden, it’s out there for the world to see. It’s classified,” Trump claimed, as he tried to build his case for silencing the leaks that are revealing his Russian connections.
Some of the information Trump was talking about was not actually classified, but that isn’t even the point since Trump gleefully used leaks that came from a hostile, aggressive foreign country against Hillary Clinton. Trump claimed that was okay because it wasn’t classified. He justified Wikileaks saying they didn’t publish classified information.
That is also inaccurate.
Trump would not answer the question about whether or not his campaign was in contact with Russia during the campaign. He pivoted, ranted, and moved the goal posts but would not say definitively that they had not.
Trump said he has no loans in Russia and no deals in Russia. He asked if anyone thought Clinton would be tougher on Russia than him. (The answer to that is everyone who is being honest thinks that including most importantly Putin.)
Then Trump pivoted to whining about how no one reported on Hillary Clinton allegedly cheating on debates by a head’s up about questions in advance (a thing that Trump also did, according to Megyn Kelly’s book).
CNN’s Jim Acosta pointed out that when Trump calls news “Fake news”, he is attacking the First Amendment and undermining the free press.
Trump got lost in weeds of trying to explain that he’s there, and he wants an honest press. He couldn’t actually point out anything inaccurate. Trump kept falling back on the idea that the people don’t believe the press anymore, which of course, has been a result of his campaign against the press.
Kelly O’Donnell pointed out that Trump actually has good relationships with some journalists, “What is hard for public to see @POTUS criticizes media broadly but has some good relationships with journalists he knows.”
What is hard for public to see @POTUS criticizes media broadly but has some good relationships with journalists he knows.
— Kelly O'Donnell (@KellyO) February 16, 2017
Trump’s press conference was all about how to silence and control the free press because he has no other response to reality.
What Trump doesn’t realize is that he has no control over the First Amendment.
Trump attacking the press is meant to make the press the issue, instead of his contacts with Russia. Trump is trying to make the public doubt the reports about his activities with Russia by smearing the sources.
Trump refused to answer what he was going to do about the Russian spy ship off of the coast of Connecticut, claiming he doesn’t announce actions in advance of doing them.
Trump doesn’t think Putin is asserting himself with that ship. If Trump believes that, Vice President Pence should step in immediately.