Trump’s Press Conference Was An Unholy Mess of Defensive Evasion
Most government ethics experts regard President-Elect Donald Trump as a walking violation of the Constitution. Some regard his pending inauguration as the moment he becomes subject to impeachment. Despite numerous promises, Trump put off explaining how his widespread business concerns will not result in actionable conflicts of interest. In fact, Trump hasn’t held a press conference on any subject since last July. That’s an unprecedented period of self-imposed muzzling that also deprives citizens of critical answers and information.
Trump’s Media Evasion
The Donald’s Twitter feed records the history of his obfuscation and delay. It goes back to November 30, 2016, when he unleashed a multi-tweet declaration stating that:
 “I will be holding a major news conference in New York City with my children on December 15 to discuss the fact that I will be leaving my …  great business in total in order to fully focus on running the country in order to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! While I am not mandated to  do this under the law, I feel it is visually important, as President, to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses..  Hence, legal documents are being crafted which take me completely out of business operations. The Presidency is a far more important task!
Less than two weeks later Trump cancelled that “major news conference” and tweeted the much more vague:
I will hold a press conference in the near future to discuss the business, Cabinet picks and all other topics of interest. Busy times!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 13, 2016
No reason was offered for the cancellation, nor was a new date provided. Then, on the day he had originally promised the press conference he tweeted:
The media tries so hard to make my move to the White House, as it pertains to my business, so complex – when actually it isn't!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 15, 2016
If it’s so simple, then why didn’t he just meet the press, explain it, and get it over with? His own comments hinted at the answer to that by describing the work that his lawyers were going through in preparation for the press conference. Then, on January 3, 2017, he finally tweeted a new date for the unveiling of his business plans. However, now the press availability was designated as having a general purpose, rather than one to specifically address the looming conflicts of interest:
I will be having a general news conference on JANUARY ELEVENTH in N.Y.C. Thank you.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2017
The big day arrives
Wednesday Trump finally held the long-promised press conference. Unfortunately, he failed to adequately address the outstanding issues that have accumulated while he sheltered himself in a media-free bunker. Among the issues that he avoided while hiding on Twitter were the persistent allegations of voter suppression. His loss of the popular vote. Charges by at least a dozen women who claim he sexual assaulted them. Payment of $25 million to settle a lawsuit to compensate the fraud victims of his phony Trump University. His white supremacist (aka alt-right) cabinet and administration appointees.
For the most part Trump repeated his standard stump speech and put up a self-serving defense without providing any new information. He assailed his critics and accused the media of smearing him.
What we “learned” at the press conference:
- We stopped giving [press conferences] because we were getting a lot of inaccurate news.
So that’s a reason to refrain from speaking to the press yourself?
- Hacking is bad and it shouldn’t be done. But look at what we learned from the hacking.
In other words, he’s praising the hacking that he says was bad. Maybe because it was only bad for Clinton.
- If Putin likes Trump, that’s an asset.
To whom? Certainly not to the nation that his naivete is putting at risk.
- I’m also very much of a germophobe. Believe me.
Thanks for sharing.
- Trump’s still using the excuse of an IRS audit to refuse to release his tax returns.
Someone tell him that as president the IRS reports to him.
- The Trump Organization now has an Office of Chief Compliance Council to insure that it operates at the highest levels of integrity.
He never had this before? Not surprising, really.
- Trump was asked to affirm that he and his campaign had no contact with Russia.
He didn’t even bother to answer the question, veering off into an unrelated subject.
Finally, Trump had a heated exchange with CNN’s Jim Acosta. When Acosta attempted to ask a question, Trump repeatedly refused to recognize him. Acosta tried to argue that since Trump had attacked his network, he should allow a question. Trump just said that he was “fake news” and turned away.
Trump shutting down CNN reporter trying to ask a question: "Don’t be rude… you are fake news" pic.twitter.com/O4z3pPYdXp
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) January 11, 2017
So now Trump is applying the term “fake news” to one of the premiere national news networks in the world. Whatever one thinks of CNN, it is entirely different from the miscreants who fabricate false stories for profit. For instance, The National Enquirer, which Trump hails as a reputable news organization. But CNN, for the time being, has been blacklisted by Trump.
A tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing
Having watched this press conference, it is apparent that we didn’t miss much during Trump’s seven month evasion from the media. He is still providing the same hollow and defensive answers to questions that he is comfortable addressing, and ignoring everything else. This is pretty much what we can expect for the next four years, if he lasts that long.
Featured Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.
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Mark Howard is the artist/author responsible for News Corpse, a website dedicated to analysis of the media and the right-wing bias inherent in a corporate-dominated media marketplace. His work has been published by nationally known progressive outlets such as Alternet and Salon. Follow News Corpse on Twitter and Facebook.