President Donald Trump played to his base, bemoaning America’s free press during Thursday morning’s brooding presser in Warsaw. The media outlets he savaged pounced on his performance.
“Deeply concerning” is how some of them described his latest harangue, noting Trump wasted no time on this latest European visit in partnering with strong men and dictators to criticize the open media that is a proud tradition in the United States.
Rutenberg was stealing material from CNN’s Jim Acosta’s, who likes to lob “Fake News” references at Team Trump, as a sort of clarion call to First Amendment fans.
Acosta outdid himself on Thursday, noting Trump’s presser attack on CNN had been cued up by Friend-of-Trump reporter at Daily Mail, David Martosko.
“For the president to go off on CNN as fake news, to me, made this spectacle feel like a fake news conference,” Acosta scolded. “This was not an attempt by the president to seek out a question from somebody who was going to challenge him on the issues.”
Over at Morning Joe, the conversation continued. “Why is he doing this? He’s helped The New York Times. He’s helped the Washington Post tremendously. His attacks against us certainly did nothing but drive our ratings up,” Morning Joe’s Joe Scarborough beamed.
One day earlier, Nielsen reported Morning Joe had clocked its biggest number ever last Friday – besting Fox News Channel’s Fox & Friends – when Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski addressed Trump’s previous-day tweet fantasizing about blood coming out of Brzezinski’s face during a holiday visit to Mar-a-Lago.
Rutenberg congratulated Scarborough on the stats, which Scarborough hastened to add they had not sought. “But everybody he attacks seems to be doing better,” he noted.
“It solidifies the mission; readers say ‘we want a free press’,” Rutenberg speculated.
“He actually drives more readers to New York Times, and Washington Post, and to this show, by attacking,” Scarborough said, continuing their cross-talk act.
While conventional wisdom says Trump is playing to a base that loves watching him media bash, Rutenberg speculated that maybe the former Democrat really does “just get angry” with those outlets.
Brzezinski reminded viewers the ratings bonanza began after “We were having fun with the Time cover – it was hilarious.” That triggered Trump to tweet about blood coming from a body part of yet another female journalist. What got Trump thinking about his favorite fantasy was Brzezinski and Scarborough poking fun at a WaPo report on the fake, flattering Time magazine Trump cover that’s hanging at his various resorts.
“I could feel his blood boiling because I know him, and the guy reacts. He can be played. It’s scary,” Mika added, matching Trump’s blood imagery.
Speaking of just getting angry, outlets Trump spends most time savaging seem to be ones he had a close relationship with in his previous life as star of NBC’s Apprentice franchise, including former NBC boss (now CNN chief) Jeff Zucker and the two Morning Joe co-hosts, who were his pals.
People around Trump report he feels betrayed by these folks, Rutenberg explained on Thursday – though it was pretty evident at the Warsaw presser when Trump whined that his having made NBC a lot of money on the Apprentice franchise had not translated to flattering coverage of his White House by NBC News.
“Childlike mind,” Mika explained that thinking.
“That’s why his message this morning was so important, and no good,” Rutenberg insisted, of Trump’s decision to travel overseas to where “press freedom is under siege” and deliver a message “that supports that [Polish] president’s own anti-press position.”
Rutenberg spoke not long after NYT colleague Glenn Thrush noted Trump seemed to suggest he wished he could handle NBC News the way Polish President Andrzej Duda restricts Polish media: