Trump press conference reveals long game. Media still scrambling
© Getty

Strategic. Planned. Effective. 

That's my headline in response to President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpIvanka Trump pens op-ed on kindergartners learning tech Bharara, Yates tamp down expectations Mueller will bring criminal charges Overnight Cybersecurity: Equifax security employee left after breach | Lawmakers float bill to reform warrantless surveillance | Intel leaders keeping collusion probe open MORE's unexpected press conference held on Thursday at the White House. 

The President himself joked that the headlines would instead read "Donald Trump Rants And Raves At The Press." 

ADVERTISEMENT
While that may be true, he certainly did a lot more than that. And whatever headline you’ve read since that press conference finished, it doesn't matter. What much of the press still fails to realize, even after a humbling repudiation of their coverage and predictions on election night, is that President Trump accomplished something on Thursday that is more than what any headline could summarize – he seized control of the narrative, reinvigorated his message, and energized his base, all with an eye on 2020.

 

We know that President Trump doesn’t feel the media does a good job of keeping his message intact. Instead, he believes the media is hateful, unfair, takes him out of context, and misinterprets his jokes. And in many instances, he’s right.

There seems to be a constant drumbeat against him rather than unbiased coverage of him. There is a subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) condescension and judgement that lays just beneath the surface of so many of the headlines and analysis surrounding the President. And because of this, President Trump’s eagerness to bypass the media and speak freely and directly to his supporters makes complete sense, so he announced a rally in Florida this Saturday. (This is also why he still uses, and will never stop using, Twitter.) 

It is the Trump rally that epitomizes his understanding of the American public. But President Trump must have felt that waiting until Saturday was simply too long of a wait, with a sudden and last minute change to his schedule on Thursday, replacing a Sean Spicer press briefing with a President Trump press conference. 

 The President’s anxiousness and eagerness to speak directly to the people makes sense. A federal appeals court ruled to maintain the stay on his temporary travel ban. General Michael Flynn’s unexpected resignation is sparking a GOP led inquiry into the administration’s connection to Russia. Kellyanne Conway’s “alternative facts” and “bowling green massacre” mishaps. Staff leaks. The GOP’s refusal to confirm his Labor Secretary nominee. These are not the stories one wants to wake up to after less than a month in the White House.

Of course, the President could have just sent Sean Spicer out again on Thursday for his usual press briefing. But the President’s very real reasons to feel anxiety over recent events gave him the instinct to know that only he could go out there and begin to fix this mess. So he did. 

 In Thursday’s presser he was, at times, bombastic, dynamic, angry, irreverent, funny, disorganized, temperamental, attacking, thoughtful, and committed. What about that is different from the man we’ve seen since he entered the race in June of 2015? Nothing. 

Yet when it was over, it left the media scrambling, confused and desperate to find the right headline amidst the hundreds of possible takeaways. All while America left with a reminder of the man who took the country by storm to claim victory in 2016. 

And yet, the media still hasn’t figured it out. The reaction and fallout from Thursday’s press conference amongst the press simply affirms the president’s basic and underlying message to the American people: “the media hates me and doesn’t understand you.” Until the media steps down from and out of their ivory tower, they will continue to create an environment for this message to resonate and ring true with Americans.

On Thursday, the President took back hold of the reins, re-centered his message and took a small step towards victory in 2020.   

Ronica Cleary is a Political Reporter for Fox 5 News in Washington, D.C. and Co-Host of Fox 5 News On The Hill. Follow her on Twitter @RonicaCleary.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.