In his first full-length press conference after assuming office, United States President Donald Trump turned combative and launched a blistering attack on the media, branding them as “dishonest” and castigated the “criminal” leaks that took down his top national security adviser in less than a month. He also complained that he inherited a “mess” from his predecessor and outrightly rejected as “fake news” the stories that his campaign was constantly in contact with Russia during the campaign.
In the 77-minute conference, the US President also criticised a “bad court” of appeals judges for blocking his refugee and immigration executive order. Denying that his White House was paralyzed by chaos and infighting among top advisers, Trump went on to say, “This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine.”
His first month in office has been fraught with chaos due to a flurry of self-inflicted wounds and poorly executed policy. He demanded the resignation of his national security adviser Michael Flynn on Monday following revelations that the latter misled Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Russia. Subsequently, the New York Times reported that Trump’s advisers were in touch with Russian intelligence counterparts during the election campaign. Trump, in response, denounced the report as “fake news” and added that he had “nothing to do with Russia”. “To the best of my knowledge no person that I deal with does,” he said.
Here is a look at how international media covered President Trump’s first full-length press conference since assuming the presidency.
“While it was a marked contrast with the normal dynamics of a presidential news conference, the East Room show was vintage Trump. He touted his own poll numbers, victory over Hillary Clinton and discussed cable TV ratings and panel discussions. But his manner is also likely to offend or alarm other voters and may do little to alleviate skepticism towards Trump among political elites in Washington. Trump in fact predicted how his animated and unorthodox news conference will be interpreted in the press,” writes Stephen Collinson.
“If Donald Trump is qualified for any job – and that’s a rather big if, based on this press conference – it’s clear that he wants to be a media critic on Fox News,” writes Richard Wolffe.
“Donald Trump’s first presidential press conference today was … something else. He ranted, he raved; he denied he was ranting and raving, which is even more bizarre than actually ranting and raving. As far as Trump himself? It’s a dangerous game to read into the president’s moods and motivations and body language, but he’s practically begging everyone to try. The striking thing about today’s appearance was that Trump began with an uninspired reading of a prepared statement, but then really picked up steam during a (very long) back and forth with the press corps. It’s hard not to imagine that this is how Trump always imagined the presidency,” writes Jonathan Bernstein.
“Where before have I come across an American president obsessed to the point of insanity with what the press writes about him and how the TV news reports his actions? A man who is engaged in a war with the media? A president who is obsessed with conspiracies, and with a determination to end the “leaks” that were undermining his authority and, as he sees it, national security? Richard Nixon, the 37th President of the USA. He is compellingly reminiscent of Trump, but with many more redeeming features,” writes Sean O’ Grady.
“Thursday’s press conference was Trump v the Media, round eleventy-billion. The event, ostensibly an announcement of the president’s new pick for labour secretary, was anything but routine,” writes Anthony Zurcher.
“For its stunning moments and memorable one-liners, Donald Trump’s first solo news conference as president has no rivals in recent memory. For all the trappings of the White House and traditions of the forum, his performance was one of a swaggering, blustery campaigner, armed with grievances and primed to unload on his favorite targets. In nearly an hour and a half at the podium, Trump bullied reporters, dismissed facts and then cracked a few caustic jokes – a combination that once made the candidate irresistible cable TV fodder. Now in office, he went even further, blaming the media for all but sinking his not-yet-launched attempt to “make a deal” with Moscow,” writes Jonathan Lemire.