Trump’s Rashomon Press Conference

 

Donald Trump’s press conference Thursday was the worst political failure in presidential history. And the presser was the most deft performance by a President ever witnessed.

Wait … which of the above sentences is true? Depends who you ask. First, let’s look at the response of Trump’s detractors.

CNN:

Trump held court during a news conference that lasted an hour and fifteen minutes, carving out a stunning moment in modern American political history. He displayed a sense of anger and grievance rarely vented by a President in public — let alone one who has been in office for just four weeks.

Washington Post:

President Trump on Thursday aired his grievances against the news media, the intelligence community and his detractors generally in a sprawling, stream-of-consciousness news conference that alternated between claims that he had “inherited a mess” and the assertion that his fledgling administration “is running like a fine-tuned machine.”

…Yet moments later, the president seemed to acknowledge the widespread reports of turbulence and upheaval emanating out of his West Wing, only to claim that his White House — which so far has been marred by staff infighting, a controversial travel ban, false statements and myriad leaks — was operating seamlessly.

New York Times:

[T]he session was marked by an extraordinarily raw and angry defense the likes of which has never been seen in a modern White House. At times abrupt, often rambling, characteristically boastful yet seemingly pained at the portrayals of him, Mr. Trump seemed intent on reproducing the energy and excitement of his campaign after a month of grinding governance. He returned repeatedly to his contest with Hillary Clinton and at one point plaintively pleaded for understanding.

From these reports, it appears that a petulant, dissembling Trump ranted and raved for more than an hour and caused incalculable damage to his presidency and his agenda. But not so fast. Despite these reports by the “objective” press, let’s see how reporters not as reflexively contemptuous of Trump reported the event.

Washington Examiner:

President Trump Thursday abruptly revived the aggressive, freewheeling style he exhibited during the presidential campaign — boasting, attacking and complaining his way through an hour-long East Room news conference.

As he did during the campaign, Trump singled out reporters for particular scorn, touting them as embodying of everything that he saw wrong with Washington: elitism, dishonesty and insularity.

Townhall’s Guy Benson:

With the media loudly demanding that he take questions from traditional mainstream outlets following yesterday’s kerfuffle, President Trump gave the press what they wanted: A lengthy news conference at which reporters from virtually every outlet under the sun were able to pose questions, often with multiple follow-ups.

Trump began by reading with a lengthy statement from which he characteristically departed and ad libbed at some length. It felt like a choreographed effort to talk over the heads of the news media “gatekeepers,” and communicate directly with the American people. While he frequently oversimplifies and over-applies his frustrations (dismissing all news and polls he doesn’t like as “fake,” for instance), the president is understandably frustrated with a press corps that really has seemed determined to cover his administration in a relentlessly negative light, sometimes in hysterical and unfair terms, from day one.

Fox News:

The president spoke and took questions for more than an hour and 15 minutes, even joking with some reporters toward the end and saying he was having fun. In a bid to preempt negative coverage of his remarks, Trump insisted he was not “ranting and raving.” But he lamented that the “tone” of coverage of his administration is one of “such hatred.”

“The public doesn’t believe you people anymore,” he said.

I missed the press conference live and, according to a brief perusal of journalist Twitter, I assumed it was a train wreck. Then I saw Ricochet member @patrickb63‘s post, which was filled with positive comments by Ricochet members. Only then did I watch the event via YouTube.

(Starts just at the 1:00:38 hour point, ends at about 2:18:00)

Trump concluded his press conference with a response to a question about crime. “This isn’t Donald Trump that divided a nation,” the President said. “We went eight years with President Obama and we went many years before President Obama. We lived in a divided nation. And I am going to try — I will do everything within my power to fix that.” Just so and Godspeed.

Rashomon, a 1950 film directed by Akira Kurosawa, focused on a murder retold by four characters. The versions were radically different, each flattering the teller and confirming their own biases. As with so much news about Trump, his press conference served as its own Rashomon.

So what did you see in today’s presser: A bravura performance by Trump holding the deceptive press corps’ feet to the fire, or a lying President devastated by truth-telling journalists?

Published in General
Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s growing community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

Members have made 181 comments.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  1. Profile photo of Kozak Coolidge
    • #1
    • February 16, 2017 at 5:04 pm
    • Like0 likes
  2. Profile photo of PHCheese Member

    What Trump did today needed to be done for his base and he did a good job. The MSM are squealing like pigs because most of them are pigs.

    • #2
    • February 16, 2017 at 5:04 pm
    • Like0 likes
  3. Profile photo of Max Ledoux Admin

    I happened to be in the car for almost the entirety of Trump’s press conference so I listened to it on the radio. I loved it. I’m sure many of the reasons I loved it are the exact same reasons that snobby elitists hated it.

    I love that Trump actually answers questions. Obama would take a question then speak for 15 minutes after which you’d have no idea what he’d said.

    I love that Trump attacked the media. Because I hate the media. The media are the enemy.

    • #3
    • February 16, 2017 at 5:05 pm
    • Like0 likes
  4. Profile photo of JR Bohl Member

    Actual reporting of facts, detailed snippets of the opinions of others, AND posing honest questions to the reader. You, sir, do not “do” journalism in the modern method. Maybe it’ll catch on.

    • #4
    • February 16, 2017 at 5:11 pm
    • Like0 likes
  5. Profile photo of harrisventures Thatcher

    I loved it. He treated the press with all the respect they deserve. Which is practically none. You could just see the clenched jaws, the high blood pressure, the totally agitated press representatives getting ready to blow a gasket.

    Trump was calm, measured, and got his points across.

    I thought it was great, and predict that flyover country really enjoyed it.

    • #5
    • February 16, 2017 at 5:13 pm
    • Like0 likes
  6. Profile photo of dittoheadadt Member

    Reuters:

    Trump on defensive in first solo news conference

    Only the corrupt, dishonest Democrat Party propagandists at Reuters would characterize today’s presser as “defensive.”

    • #6
    • February 16, 2017 at 5:15 pm
    • Like0 likes
  7. Profile photo of Valiuth Member

    All I know is that everything I hear said about Trump sounds true. He is at once an inchoate idiot man baby and a super effective political genius, able to speak to the common man, but unable to form one complete sentence in the King’s English.

    Leaks are all true but the news about them is all lies. Flynn was unfairly treated by the media but justly fired by the President.

    Four years of this. We have four years of this nonsense to live through. Paul Ryan should just declare himself Shadow President and the department heads should just start reporting to him, before the Trump Circus overruns all government activity.

    • #7
    • February 16, 2017 at 5:15 pm
    • Like0 likes
  8. Profile photo of DocJay Member

    He was fairly calm, even focused, for him and did a good job dealing with people who would celebrate while laughing if he was killed.

    • #8
    • February 16, 2017 at 5:20 pm
    • Like0 likes
  9. Profile photo of DocJay Member

    Mr Gabriel, what do you think?

    • #9
    • February 16, 2017 at 5:20 pm
    • Like0 likes
  10. Profile photo of JL Member
    JL

    I started laughing at Rashomon and haven’t been able to stop after finishing the article 5 minutes ago.

    “Donald Trump’s press conference Thursday was the worst political failure in presidential history.”

    But Jon, how was it overall?

    • #10
    • February 16, 2017 at 5:20 pm
    • Like0 likes
  11. Profile photo of Tzvi Kilov Member

    I’m waiting for everyone to grow up and get over their joy that someone’s rude to the press. It is an indignity and an immaturity for so many conservatives to be excited by this, in all honesty, and am surprised that the President’s utter incoherence, mendacity, and poor treatment of others has not brought more members of this site to reevaluate their position on Trump at least a little. I especially mean those who thought that the Presidency would make him more Presidential, or who supported him because they hated Hillary.

    Guess what, Mr. Trump’s favorite talking point — that he won the election, big league — is, a month into his administration, no longer exciting to me. Every time he says it, it becomes more and more a millstone around his neck.

    That’s right, Mr. Trump. You won. Clinton is gone. Obama is gone. The country hates the media.

    What are you going to do with it?

    Based on the evidence: Be petulant. Play the victim. Go to the Mar-a-lago a lot. Bread and circuses for your base who want blood. Learn nothing. Learn humility least of all. Ramble about nuclear annihilation. Take offense at a question before it’s asked. Lie, lie, and lie some more. Be too stupid or too reckless to realize how much power your words hold.

    I’m tired of winning. I want my president to be righteous or to at least know what the word means.

    • #11
    • February 16, 2017 at 5:26 pm
    • Like0 likes
  12. Profile photo of JL Member
    JL

    The brilliance, intended or not, of Donald Trump is he may force us to meet in the middle — if only for the sake of our collective sanity.

    I’m still lmao.

    • #12
    • February 16, 2017 at 5:31 pm
    • Like0 likes
  13. Profile photo of RightAngles Member

    I watched it live, and could not stop smiling. He was great. The media snippets above break every rule of objective journalism. These unethical charlatans should remember that they’re no longer our only source for information, and that more of us see right through them every day.

    • #13
    • February 16, 2017 at 5:35 pm
    • Like0 likes
  14. Profile photo of Dave Sussman Contributor

    Heard some today, playing catch up now. I would suggest the biggest problem with this is it wasn’t in prime time.

    I would love for more people to see it unfiltered.

    • #14
    • February 16, 2017 at 5:45 pm
    • Like0 likes
  15. Profile photo of NYLibertarianGuy Coolidge

    Tzvi Kilov (View Comment):
    I’m tired of winning. I want my president to be righteous or to at least know what the word means.

    Amen.
    • #15
    • February 16, 2017 at 5:46 pm
    • Like0 likes
  16. Profile photo of NYLibertarianGuy Coolidge

    Max Ledoux (View Comment):
    I happened to be in the car for almost the entirety of Trump’s press conference so I listened to it on the radio. I loved it. I’m sure many of the reasons I loved it are the exact same reasons that snobby elitists hated it.

    I love that Trump actually answers questions. Obama would take a question then speak for 15 minutes after which you’d have no idea what he’d said.

    I love that Trump attacked the media. Because I hate the media. The media are the enemy.

    Viewing everything from an “enemy”/”ally” paradigm is dangerous here. The man lied through his teeth.

    • #16
    • February 16, 2017 at 5:49 pm
    • Like0 likes
  17. Profile photo of DocJay Member

    NYLibertarianGuy (View Comment):

    Max Ledoux (View Comment):
    I happened to be in the car for almost the entirety of Trump’s press conference so I listened to it on the radio. I loved it. I’m sure many of the reasons I loved it are the exact same reasons that snobby elitists hated it.

    I love that Trump actually answers questions. Obama would take a question then speak for 15 minutes after which you’d have no idea what he’d said.

    I love that Trump attacked the media. Because I hate the media. The media are the enemy.

    Viewing everything from an “enemy”/”ally” paradigm is dangerous here. The man lied through his teeth.

    Failure to understand the nature and goals of an enemy is also dangerous. Trump will come and go yet he represents the only chance any conservative has at beating certain enemies, media being one of the biggest, that normal people seem incapable of countering.

    • #17
    • February 16, 2017 at 5:56 pm
    • Like0 likes
  18. Profile photo of Salvatore Padula Member

    Politics is always a matter of perspective. Trump clearly believes the main thing he has to do is appeal to his supporters. At this point in his presidency that’s probably a good idea. Despite what both Trump and his detractors claim, he hasn’t actually done much as president yet. Trump’s supporters like his style and hate the media. Taking a fan service approach to his press conference is basically the approach Disney took with the Force Awakens (not a good stand alone movie, but enjoyable as a reunion with long familiar characters). Whether or not Trump’s reliance on playing media-critic-in-chief will wear well over time remains to be seen.

    • #18
    • February 16, 2017 at 6:04 pm
    • Like0 likes
  19. Profile photo of Salvatore Padula Member

    DocJay (View Comment):

    NYLibertarianGuy (View Comment):

    Max Ledoux (View Comment):
    I happened to be in the car for almost the entirety of Trump’s press conference so I listened to it on the radio. I loved it. I’m sure many of the reasons I loved it are the exact same reasons that snobby elitists hated it.

    I love that Trump actually answers questions. Obama would take a question then speak for 15 minutes after which you’d have no idea what he’d said.

    I love that Trump attacked the media. Because I hate the media. The media are the enemy.

    Viewing everything from an “enemy”/”ally” paradigm is dangerous here. The man lied through his teeth.

    Failure to understand the nature and goals of an enemy is also dangerous. Trump will come and go yet he represents the only chance any conservative has at beating certain enemies, media being one of the biggest, that normal people seem incapable of countering.

    What do you mean by beating the media?

    • #19
    • February 16, 2017 at 6:12 pm
    • Like0 likes
  20. Profile photo of Kozak Coolidge

    dittoheadadt (View Comment):
    Reuters:

    Trump on defensive in first solo news conference

    Only the corrupt, dishonest Democrat Party propagandists at Reuters would characterize today’s presser as “defensive.”

    Trump was on the defensive like Zhukov was on the Oder in 1945…

    • #20
    • February 16, 2017 at 6:18 pm
    • Like0 likes
  21. Profile photo of DocJay Member

    Sal, as much as it could mean consciously giving them a chunky swirly in a Calcutta bathroom, I mean either fully discrediting them or actually forcing genuine journalism. The Biased American media delenda est.

    • #21
    • February 16, 2017 at 6:19 pm
    • Like0 likes
  22. Profile photo of JL Member
    JL

    The country is absolutely divided.

    Between those of us valiantly fighting the enemy — and those who are making a sandwich. Its nearly impossible to get an accurate tally of who’s who because those valiantly fighting use every resource to report they are fighting an enemy — while those of us making a sandwich are too busy enjoying said sandwich to answer the fighting polls.

    As someone who has fought enemies, made sandwiches, and once fought a sandwich — I think we’ll get there — but things are gonna get a bit worse before that happens.

    • #22
    • February 16, 2017 at 6:20 pm
    • Like0 likes
  23. Profile photo of MLH Member
    MLH

    Tzvi Kilov (View Comment):
    Mr. Trump’s favorite talking point — that he won the election, big league

    How long did Obama do this? I know that 2 wrongs don’t make a right but giving the left a dosing of their own medicine for awhile longer is, imo, a good thing.

    • #23
    • February 16, 2017 at 6:20 pm
    • Like0 likes
  24. Profile photo of MLH Member
    MLH

    Kozak (View Comment):

    What was that you said?

    • #24
    • February 16, 2017 at 6:22 pm
    • Like0 likes
  25. Profile photo of Tzvi Kilov Member

    MLH (View Comment):

    How long did Obama do this? I know that 2 wrongs don’t make a right but giving the left a dosing of their own medicine for awhile longer is, imo, a good thing.

    The Obama credits are really only going to go so far. To me, they are only legitimate inasmuch as they prove that Mr. Trump’s election is not an apocalyptic event. I am at the stage when I am judging him on his own merits. And I wish he had more.

    • #25
    • February 16, 2017 at 6:23 pm
    • Like0 likes
  26. Profile photo of MLH Member
    MLH

    Tzvi Kilov (View Comment):

    MLH (View Comment):

    How long did Obama do this? I know that 2 wrongs don’t make a right but giving the left a dosing of their own medicine for awhile longer is, imo, a good thing.

    The Obama credits are really only going to go so far. To me, they are only legitimate inasmuch as they prove that Mr. Trump’s election is not an apocalyptic event. I am at the stage when I am judging him on his own merits. And I wish he had more.

    Do you think the left (and others, both for and against him) will e v e r get this?!

    • #26
    • February 16, 2017 at 6:26 pm
    • Like0 likes
  27. Profile photo of Rightfromthestart Thatcher

    Listened via Rush, then heard Mark Simone filling in for Hannity.

    Magnificent! I was laughing throughout. What the press mandarins don’t seem to realize is that this is a construction guy from Queens. He’s a chop buster, in that melieu if you let it be known that something bothers you , you’ll never hear the end of it. The more they shriek , the more he will break their chops. ( Chops is not the word I would prefer to use so use your imagination)

    Item two, tonight I saw Chris Wallace and Bernie Goldberg on Fox and Tapper and Mr. minus $4600 Blitzer on wherever saying things like ‘but this isn’t his job ‘ Tapper even trotted out the old ‘feed a hungry child’ line. I disagree , he was elected in part to blow the incestuous Democrat/Media complex to smithereens. He doing great in that regard.

    • #27
    • February 16, 2017 at 6:28 pm
    • Like0 likes
  28. Profile photo of Salvatore Padula Member

    DocJay (View Comment):
    Sal, as much as it could mean consciously giving them a chunky swirly in a Calcutta bathroom, I mean either fully discrediting them or actually forcing genuine journalism. The Biased American media delenda est.

    Okay, but how is Trump going to do that? As far as discrediting them goes, Trump called the reporting on Flynn fake news, but conceded its factual accuracy. Who’s discredited there?

    As for forcing the media to engage in actual journalism, I think you’re mistaken if you believe that’s what Trump wants. Trump doesn’t want the media to engage in real journalism. He wants it to be engaging journalism favorable to him. Michael Flynn was forced out precisely because the media has, after an outrageously partisan eight year hiatus, gotten back in the business of investigative journalism.

    • #28
    • February 16, 2017 at 6:34 pm
    • Like0 likes
  29. Profile photo of Jon Gabriel, Ed. Chief
    Jon Gabriel, Ed. Post author

    DocJay (View Comment):
    Mr Gabriel, what do you think?

    Hmmmm… do I answer or not…

    Well, I was purposefully vague above since I might write an additional post with my thoughts. But I thought the schizophrenic reaction to the presser was far more interesting than my hot takes. But, being wise like Solomon, I’ll cut the baby in half.

    The stuff I don’t like about Trump, I still don’t like: The half-truths, boasting, focusing on irrelevant points, etc. But even though that isn’t my cup of espresso, I know that’s what so many of his supporters love about him.

    However, any abuse given to the partisan totally objective DC press corps is well deserved. Seriously, compare Obama’s first presser with Trump’s. The NYT asked Obama “what most enchanted him” about the presidency. As I said on The Conservatarians podcast today, “the journalistic sin is not bias, but not admitting said bias.” CNN, et al., would be better off openly declaring they wanted Hillary to win.

    From a purely political standpoint, the presser helped Trump. After a rough week, he rallied his fans. The people who will always despise him didn’t like it, but so what? In the vast middle, I think voters will be more likely to side with The Donald than the press in today’s match-up.

    • #29
    • February 16, 2017 at 6:42 pm
    • Like0 likes
  30. Profile photo of DocJay Member

    Salvatore Padula (View Comment):

    DocJay (View Comment):
    Sal, as much as it could mean consciously giving them a chunky swirly in a Calcutta bathroom, …….The Biased American media delenda est.

    Okay, but how is Trump going to do that? As far as discrediting them goes, Trump called the reporting on Flynn fake news, but conceded its factual accuracy. Who’s discredited there?

    As for forcing the media to engage in actual journalism, I think you’re mistaken if you believe that’s what Trump wants. Trump doesn’t want the media to engage in real journalism. He wants it to be engaging journalism favorable to him. Michael Flynn was forced out precisely because the media has, after an outrageously partisan eight year hiatus, gotten back in the business of investigative journalism.

    Very very few are in the business of investigative journalism. Hit pieces with sprinklings of truth are their business now.

    Of course Trump wants favorable stuff, he’s an off the charts narcissist. But all those around him and most conservatives would prefer honesty.

    Trumps existence will likely create fair ( more so at least ) journalism because the news media is now perceived as lying first and truth telling only if concrete proof exists. The machinery of the democrats will be diminished by Trumps odd existence as president. No one else could do it. Let’s call it a side effect of his very thin skin and attack dog nature.

    • #30
    • February 16, 2017 at 6:44 pm
    • Like0 likes
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7