As Donald Trump held his first solo news conference as President on Feb. 16 and returned to some of his campaign messages, many who watched said they have never seen anything like it from a sitting president.
“It was unhinged,” said Mark Malouf, the president of the College Democrats club at Santa Rosa Junior College.
During the news conference, Trump gave false information about his victory in the electoral college and conceded that information leaks damaging to his administration are accurate, but reports of the leaks are ‘fake’.
Trump’s views on truth have left much of the public scrambling to make sense of what exactly is happening in the White House, according to Malouf.
“The right wing has always been good at framing the narrative to their advantage, but this is pretty much doing that on steroids,” said Malouf.
Trump claimed his electoral college victory was the most lopsided since Ronald Reagan. When pressed on the matter and given proof of the falsity of his claim, the President explained that he was “given that information”.
While Trump gave misinformation of his own, he accused the media of being dishonest, in particular when it came to the intelligence leaks that lead to the resignation of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was found to have contacted Russian officials before Trump’s inauguration.
“Many of our Nation’s reporters and folks, will not tell you the truth. Because the press, honestly, is out of control. The level of dishonesty is out of control,” President Trump said during his news conference.
The President has cause to complain about information leaks from government sources, according to Howard Kurtz of Fox News, but “that doesn’t mean the information is wrong” wrote Kurtz in an opinion piece for Fox.
Trump also said that the tone of the reporting is “hateful” and therefore inaccurate.
Trump did not hide his desire for simple questions. When asked what he would do to address anti-semitism in America, he offed no substantive answers.
“Quiet, quiet, quiet! See he lied about, he was going to get up and ask a very straight simple question,” the President said about the reporter who asked the question.
Trump called the question “insulting” and referred to his visit earlier in the week with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“As the highest elected official in the United States your job isn’t to take the easiest questions,” Malouf said. “The media’s job is to pretty much interrogate you.”
Kurtz called the news conference “the harshest indictment of the media ever delivered from the White House”, and pointed out that Trump’s supporters likely thought it was a brilliant takedown of a corrupt media.
While politicians regularly give answers that are unsatisfactory and sometimes untrue, Malouf said, Trump’s stance towards truth is a break from the norms in America.
“His attacks on the media seem to be a repetitive trend that is fascistic in nature,” Malouf said. “He is trying to not only delegitimize any information outside of his own but all sorts of, pretty much reality.”