Trump press conferences are always a disaster, according to a New York Times op-ed by David Brooks, who served as the White House chief of staff under Barack Obama.
The Times’ Brooks wrote that Trump’s first press conference, in the days following the inauguration, “seemed so good that it seemed like he was trying to be a master of the art, at once a political mastermind and a celebrity.”
Brooks cited the media’s attention to the media coverage of the first press event and Trump’s initial responses to it, including his statement that the media was “not going to do a good job.”
“He then tried to convince the press corps to treat him as a king,” Brooks wrote.
“And so we have a president who tries to convince us that we should give him a pass, or that he is doing the right thing.
And we are, to the contrary.”
In the days after Trump took office, the president issued two press conferences that Brooks argued “had an impact on the media.”
First, the press conference that gave Trump a boost after the first, in which he declared the media “fake news,” caused an immediate backlash, which prompted the president to repeat his remarks, saying, “The fake media is going crazy with their conspiracy theories and blind hatred.
They are not interested in discussing the fact that our country is in great shape and we are going to make great deals, and we will make tremendous deals.”
Trump then called the media to task for reporting that he had not made a decision about whether he would accept a cabinet position or continue his campaign.
“I don’t want to talk about that right now,” Trump said, “but I will talk about it when we’re done.”
The second, more subdued press conference—the one that gave the president a chance to address the American people directly—also led to a major backlash.
The White House initially denied that Trump had said anything to the press during his first press briefing, but a White House official later clarified that Trump was just responding to questions about the status of the border wall.
“He was being very direct and telling the press what was going on,” the official told CNN.
“We have to go into that briefing with the same message.”
The White “saved face” by doing so, the official added.
“It was good for the president.”
But a WhiteHouse official later contradicted Brooks’ assessment, telling The Times that “the president was not giving a direct answer to the questions.”
“The president’s comments were not directed at the press or the press’ questions,” the WhiteHouse said in a statement.
“They were focused on his views and policy priorities.”
But some observers believe Trump may have been trying to get his message across by telling reporters that he was willing to take a position on the border fence.
“The press conference on Tuesday was an attempt to get the American public to believe that he didn’t want them to take him seriously about his position on a border wall,” a senior White House aide told The New York Post.
“This is how you get your message across.”
“I would be surprised if he did not want them,” the aide continued.
“But he was making a point to the reporters to try to get them to accept his position.”
The Times also noted that while the president had a few “tough-talking” moments, they were overshadowed by Trump’s “buzzy” comments about the media.
“At one point, the White, the administration, the media, and even the country seemed on a collision course over what to make of the president’s claims about the press,” the op- ed said.
“Then the president finally did something that had been suggested before, and it was a great deal less controversial: he said he was going to be tough on the press.”