President Trump, in his extraordinary press conference last week, called out the media for its brazenly biased reporting. In the 77-minute presser, he dissected their stories, called out the incessant tone of “anger” and “hatred” and clearly enunciated his view that the Trump White House is running just fine, no thanks to them.
And the new alpha wolf in town smacked the lapdog media repeatedly on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper.
“Well, the failing New York Times wrote a big, long front-page story yesterday. And it was very much discredited, as you know. It was — it’s a joke,” Mr. Trump said in answer to the third question. “The Wall Street Journal did a story today that was almost as disgraceful as the failing New York Times’ story yesterday,” he added.
How did the media respond? First, they pouted. “It was a wild press conference,” said CNN’s Jake Tapper. Mr. Trump “said things that were not true,” he whined. “It was unhinged, it was wild,” he said before bursting into tears and running from the studio.
Fox News’ Shepherd Smith also got all wee-weed up.
“It is crazy what we are watching every day, it is absolutely crazy,” Mr. Smith said. “He keeps repeating ridiculous throwaway lines that are not true at all and sort of avoiding this issue of Russia as if we are some kind of fools for asking the question.”
Scott Pelley of CBS News, in his most anchorlike, Walter Cronkite impression, said: “Today, we learned the length of the president’s fuse: 28 days.”
So they proved his point, pretty much. All style, no substance — again. They talked about themselves — their feelings were hurt, darn it — but steered clear of covering what the president actually said.
But it gets even worse. Days later, the supposedly bias-free Associated Press (not at all unbiased) dropped this bombshell in a tweet: “BREAKING: Trump administration considers mobilizing as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up unauthorized immigrants.”
“The Trump administration considered a proposal to mobilize as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up unauthorized immigrants, including millions living nowhere near the Mexico border, according to a draft memo obtained by The Associated Press,” the AP said in its story.
Boom. Huge. Except there was a problem. No, many problems, foremost among them — the story wasn’t remotely true.
First, the Trump administration didn’t “consider a proposal.” There was never a “proposal,” just drafts that eventually became a document that didn’t contain any such call for the National Guard to “round up” illegal aliens.
Second, the “proposal” wasn’t “written by U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.” The AP report said: “Governors in the 11 states would have a choice whether to have their guard troops participate, according to the memo, written by U.S. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general.”
In fact, the AP was forced to fix its error, adding into the piece a paragraph that said “A DHS official described the document as a very early draft that was not seriously considered and never brought to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly for approval.” Huh.
And third, nowhere in the memo does it say “100,000 National Guard troops,” as both the tweet and story said.
So the press bristled at charges from the new president that they are selling fake news — and immediately goes out and proves his point.
Just when you thought Washington couldn’t get any weirder.
• Joseph Curl has covered politics for 25 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent at The Washington Times. He also ran the Drudge Report as morning editor for four years. He can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter via @josephcurl.