President Donald Trump’s press conference on Thursday was “o
ne of the most chaotic, rambling press conferences anybody has ever seen,” “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough said Friday.
Scarborough and other commentators have posited that Trump was likely “playing” to his base of supporters by using much of the 77-minute press conference to criticise the media and complain about how “unfairly” his first month in office has been covered by the press.
“He may be at only 39% in the polls, but his hardcore supporters were in front of the TV set and they were laughing — and they weren’t laughing at Donald Trump, they were laughing at the media,” Scarborough said, referencing a Pew Research survey.
Indeed, conservative radio host Joe Walsh tweeted that an 80-year-old Navy veteran called into his program and said he had “been waiting 40 years for a president to do what Trump did to the media today.” Conservative author Ann Coulter, a major Trump backer, tweeted, “Trump is already head of state. After that press conference, in my eyes, he’s now head of church.” Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh said it was like nothing he’d ever seen.
“Morning Joe” panelist Mike Barnicle said that while there was “no doubt” that his supporters ate it up, the first half of the press conference was “watching a president of the United States who has lost his grip on reality. It was as if he performed yesterday because he needed to convince himself that he was president.”
“He has absolutely nobody in that White House who will walk up to him and tell him the truth. And so he lives in an alternate reality. He says things that are verifiably false,” he said.
Trump used the term “fake news” 12 times during the press conference to describe media reports about his campaign team’s communication with Russia during the election, his boasts that he had “the biggest Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan,” and in saying the media was “trying to attack our administration because they know we are following through on pledges that we made and they’re not happy about it for whatever reason.”
NBC’s White House correspondent Peter Alexander at one point fact-checked Trump, noting that both President Barack Obama and George W. Bush both won more electoral college votes than Trump did.
“Why should Americans trust you when you accuse the information they receive as being fake when you’re providing information that’s fake?” Alexander asked.
Trump cut him off, saying “I was given that information, I don’t know, I was given that information.”
Scarborough said that members of Congress told him after the press conference ended that “this isn’t going to last long. He just doesn’t have control of reality.”
Among Trump’s most unbelievable claims was that his administration was running “like a fine-tuned machine,” despite a chaotic first month in office in which his immigration order was halted by the courts, his National Security Adviser was forced to resign, he insulted several key US allies including Australia and Mexico, and turned Mar-A-Lago — his private club — into an “open-air Situation room.”
The president contended, moreover, that the US is “becoming a drug-infested nation” and that “drugs are becoming cheaper than candy bars,” adding, “We are not going to let it happen any longer.” He asked a black reporter if she’d be willing to set up his meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus and told a Jewish reporter to “sit down” and “be quiet” when he asked about rising anti-Semitism.
Hours later, Trump’s pick to replace Michael Flynn, Robert Harward, turned down the offer to work in an administration he found dysfunctional, CNN’s Jake Tapper reported.
“Vice Admiral Harward declined the NSA job yesterday,” CNN’s Jake Tapper reported, “having told a friend the White House was too chaotic and the offer was a ‘sh– sandwich.'”
Allan Smith contributed reporting.