Trump connects media attention with danger levels

WASHINGTON: It was more of a verbal brawl than a press conference. In fact, there was even a moment of brief inadvertent physical contact between a White House staffer (an intern) and a reporter. Ties between the US media and the President, already more fraught than feisty, went further south today, and for the first time it also involved foreign journalists.

In a rambling, unstructured White House press conference that is becoming an all-too-familiar spectacle, President Trump repeatedly berated the media, snapped at reporters, and insulted foreign correspondents in a sniveling, snarling performance that was even more turbulent than the usual dismal standards he has set.

There were many dreadful moments in Wednesday’s Trump vs media madness, headlined by his familiar tirade against CNN, whose White House correspondent Jim Acosta aggressively asked him why he is demonising a migrant caravan many hundred miles away as an “invasion.”

“I think you should let me run the country, you run CNN, and if you did it well, your ratings would be much better,” Trump sneered. As Acosta attempted a follow up question, Trump snapped, “That’s enough. Put down the mic,” even as a White House intern who was passing around the mic attempted to wrestle it away from Acosta.

He wasn’t done with it. “Just sit down, please. When you report fake news – no – when you report fake news, which CNN does, a lot, you are the enemy of the people,” the President who lost the popular vote in 2016 said, even as a colleague from NBC defended Acosta. “I’m not a big fan of yours. Just sit down, please,” Trump snapped at him.

The President’s spokesperson later retweeted a doctored video showing greater physical contact than there really was, and followed it up by banning Acosta from the White House. CNN and the Washington press corps defended the reporter.

The President’s snippiness extended to the foreign media and to journalists of color. When a journalist, who happened to be black, asked him about describing himself as a nationalist and how some could interpret it as embracing white nationalism, Trump retorted, "I don't know why you'd say that. Such a racist question."

More than once when a foreign correspondent asked a question, Trump said he could not understand the question (presumably on account of the accent) leading one to wonder how he comprehends his wife, a Slovenian immigrant who speaks English with a heavy accent.

The growing confrontation between the media and Trump acolytes is starting to spill out to the streets and homes.

A group calling itself Smash Racism DC, a self-described “anti-fascist” group, demonstrated before the home of Tucker Carlson, a prominent pro-Trump commentator on Fox News, chanting, “Tucker Carlson, we will fight! We know where you sleep at night!”

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