NATIONAL HARBOR, MD — Speaking to a boisterous, full-capacity crowd at the 2017 edition of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), President Donald Trump delivered all-encompassing remarks that included blistering attacks on the “fake news media,” incorrect polling, anonymous sources, and “the Clinton News Network” of CNN.
Trump turned his ire toward the media almost immediately, but not before he reminisced about his first “major political speech” at CPAC (came back in 2011) that he “loved” in addition to “the commotion” where he spoke with “practically no notes and no preparation.”
After the first of many self-indulgences, Trump went full blast against the news media, his primary opponents, and political consultants with some help from a woman in the audience who screamed “fake news”:
The media didn’t think we would win. The pundits — you’re right. They had no idea. The pundits didn’t think we would win. The consultants that suck up all that money, they suck it up, they’re so good, they’re not good at politics but they’re really good at sucking up people’s money. Especially my opponent’s, because I kept them down to a minimum. But the consultants didn’t think we would win. But they all underestimated the power of the people, you, and the people proved them totally wrong. Never — and this is so true, and this what’s been happening. Never underestimate the people. Never. I don’t think it will ever happen again. And I want you all to know that we are fighting the fake news. It’s fake, phony, fake.
“A few days ago, I called the fake news ‘the enemy of the people,’ and they are. They are the enemy of the people. Because they have no sources. They just make ’em up when there are none,” proclaimed the President, referencing to stories out of the intelligence community.
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Another alleged gripe with the “very dishonest people” in the media was that they took his comments about the industry being “the enemy of the people.” Even though Trump cited ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, and The New York Times in his now-infamous tweet (then press conference), he lamented:
In fact in covering my comments, the dishonest media did not explain that I called the fake news the enemy of the people, the fake news. They dropped off the word “fake.” And all of a sudden, the story became, the media is the enemy. They take the word “fake” out. And now I’m saying, oh, no. This is no good. But that’s the way they are.
However, Trump emphasized to on-lookers that he’s “not against the media” and doesn’t “mind bad stories if I deserve them.”
“But I am only against the fake news media or press. Fake. Fake. They have to leave out the word. I’m against the people that make up stories and make up sources….Let their name be put out there. Let their name be put out,” Trump emphasized as the crowd ate it up.
Trump also mocked those in the federal government leaking information to the media, baiting them to “say it to my face” because “let there be no more sources.”
Throughout the first portion of the speech, the President’s stream of consciousness and love/hate relationship with the media was on full display. While he didn’t hold back in trashing media outlets that he believes to have pushed “fake news,” Trump fed off the crowd, scores of journalists, and TV cameras hanging on his every word.
“There are some great reporters around. There are talented, they’re honest as the day is long, they’re great. But there are some terrible dishonest people. And they do a tremendous disservice to our country and to our people, a tremendous disservice. They are very dishonest people. And they shouldn’t use sources. They should put the name of the person. You will see stories dry up like you’ve never seen before,” Trump explained.
Interestingly, the President turned the tables and asked the audience to put themselves in his shoes when it comes to the liberal media constantly hammering him:
So you have no idea how bad it is, because if you are not part of the story, and I put myself in your position sometimes, because many of you, you’re not part of the story, and if you’re not part of the story, you know, then you sort of know, if you are part of the story, you know what they’re saying is true or not. So when they make it up, and they make up something else, and you saw that before the election, polls, polls. The polls. They come out with these polls. And everybody was so surprised.
While on this rift about polls leading up to Election Day, Trump promised that he wouldn’t “mention names,” but decided to acknowledge “the Clinton News Network” aka CNN as one that failed to predict November 8’s outcome to instead prop up Hillary Clinton.
The poll-obsessed President added that negative polls “creates a false narrative” that instills the belief in voters that their candidate can’t win and alleged this discourages some from voting.
“We have to fight it, folks. We have to fight it. They’re very smart. They’re very cunning. And they’re very dishonest. So just to conclude, it’s a very sensitive topic. They get upset, they say we can’t criticize their dishonest coverage because of the first amendment. They always bring up the first amendment. I love the First Amendment. Nobody loves it better than me,” summarized Trump.
Just as White House chief strategist Steve Bannon did on Thursday, Trump told CPAC that liberal media outlets “have their own agenda” to their corporate management that’s “not your agenda” or “the country’s agenda.”
Trump ruled that this has been despite the fact that the media “have a professional obligation as members of the press to report honestly, but as you saw throughout the entire campaign, and even now, the fake news doesn’t tell the truth — doesn’t tell the truth.”
To the surprise of probably no one who reads this, Trump was only getting started. The 45th President went onto cover everything from border security to trade the “total catastrophe” of ObamaCare.
Along with a promise to boost the military’s budge by axing the sequester (passed by a GOP House), Trump predicted that his administration will slash government regulations, put those in the coal industry back to work, and ensure that the Republican Party belongs to the American worker.
On Thursday, many in the media (including this space) observed how there was a sense of uneasiness over CPAC, unsure of what to make of this new era. She may be with NBC News, but Kasie Hunt succinctly diagnosed this mood on Thursday night.
The scene was the polar opposite on Friday. The big crowds were beside themselves with one standing ovation after another while journalists frantically typed and tweeted away.
24 hours ago, it was uncertain what the big takeaway would be from this distinguished and time-honored conference that draws thousands of activists, college students, donors, and average conservative voters from around the world.
By noontime Friday, there was little to no doubt that this CPAC will be remembered as the one in which the attendees that voted for Rand Paul and Ted Cruz in annual straw poll came around to the President.
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