- The Washington Times - Friday, January 13, 2017

President-elect Donald Trump’s rare pre-inauguration press conference this week was rife with attacks against journalists and an outright refusal at times to answer their questions — nothing too unusual, Russian journalist Alexey Kovalev remarked afterwards, at least when compared with President Vladimir Putin’s own interactions with the media.

“Congratulations, U.S. media! You’ve just covered your first press conference of an authoritarian leader with a massive ego and a deep disdain for your trade and everything you hold dear,” Mr. Kovalev, a Moscow-based reporter, wrote in a widely-shared blog post published on Medium in the aftermath of the Wednesday press conference.

While Mr. Trump did in fact weigh in on topics involving his imminent administration and concerns thereof, the conference took a notably hostile turn towards the end when he launched a heated tirade against CNN reporter Jim Acosta before abruptly ending the event with many unanswered questions.

Mr. Kovalev, a frequent critic of the Kremlin who regularly reports on its propaganda efforts, said Mr. Trump’s behavior bore significant similarities with those of his soon-to-be Russian counterpart.

“Given that Putin is probably a role model for Trump, it’s no surprise that he’s apparently taking a page from Putin’s playbook,” the journalist wrote.

Assuming the president-elect stays on his current course after next week’s inauguration, Mr. Kovalev used his Medium post to share advice with American journalists he expects to endure similar treatment in the years to come.

“You’re in this for at least another four years, and you’ll be dealing with things Russian journalists have endured for almost two decades now,” he wrote.

Less subtly, Mr. Kovalev explained to his American colleagues: “Welcome to the era of bull***.”

“Facts don’t matter. You can’t hurt this man with facts or reason. He’ll always outmaneuver you. He’ll always wriggle out of whatever carefully crafted verbal trap you lay for him. Whatever he says, you won’t be able to challenge him,” he continued, evoking examples from Mr. Putin’s own previous press events.
In addition to facing opposition from the White House, the journalist said reporters should be wary of their own ilk in anticipation of Mr. Trump’s administration.

“These people are not your partners or brothers in arms. They are your rivals in a fiercely competitive, crashing market and right now the only currency in this market is whatever that man on the stage says,” he wrote. “It’s in this man’s best interests to pit you against each other, fighting over artificial scarcities like room space, mic time or, of course, his attention.”

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