#Donald Trump, proving once again, to paraphrase Napoleon, that it is sometimes better to be a lucky politician than a good one, held his first post-election press conference the day a fake news story was published by Buzzfeed and reported on, to some extent, by CNN, blew up. The story was a lurid tale of Trump, Russian hookers, shadowy deals with agents of Vladimir Putin, based on what American intelligence concluded was an attempt at disinformation. However, Buzzfeed did a document dump, and CNN reported on what the webzine had done. The development allowed Trump to beat up on a CNN reporter during the news conference as the hapless journalist sputtered denials.
The presidential press conference was turned into an art form by President John F. Kennedy when reporters enjoyed the cut and thrust banter with a man they mostly supported and admired. By the Nixon presidency, press conferences had devolved into a game of gotcha, which presidents handled with varying success. Nixon was not very good at it. Reagan and Clinton were better. Obama largely avoided pressers.
Trump is going to have a different kind of press conference when he becomes president. While he will banter with the reporters who want to catch him in a gaffe, he will, from time to time, single out a hapless journalist and tear into him or her like a slice of pizza. CNN’s John Acosta was the target de jure. Having his CNN compatriot Jake Tapper come to his defense later will be of little comfort.
Meryl Streep was right about one thing. Besides Hollywood actors, the most hated class of people in Middle America are the members of the mainstream media. Trump recognizes this fact and is using it to his advantage, setting up confrontations between himself and reporters where he can play not so much the victim but the aggrieved party of journalistic malfeasance. The media has relaxed standards, where it comes to Trump, which will give him plenty of opportunities to get into yelling matches with reporters, The downside of the situation, is that if the media ever uncovers a real scandal, it is not likely to be believed.