I have to give the guy credit. Donald Trump is able to show disrespect and contempt for the media in a way that makes you admire that facet of him even though you loathe the rest of the man.
Today Trump held a rally/press conference where he promised to address his history of birtherism. Yes, he did admit that Obama was born in the United States after blaming Hillary Clinton for starting the story and patting himself on the back for bringing answers to that burning question.
This was the set up
I am now going to the brand new Trump International, Hotel D.C. for a major statement.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 16, 2016
I’m going to quote at length from leftwing ThinkProgress, for the schadenfreude:
Cable news cameras flocked to Pennsylvania Avenue for the event Trump’s campaign billed as a “press conference.” Reporters anticipated asking him about how and when he came to the conclusion that Obama was in fact born in the United States, despite five years of being the most vocal spokesperson for the conspiracy.
But things did not go according to plan.
First, the event started more than an hour late. During that time, most of the major networks showed an empty podium branded with Trump’s new hotel logo and reporters had a chance to check out the amenities.
When the event finally began, Trump’s first comments were about the “nice” hotel that he said is both “under budget and ahead of schedule.”
But for roughly 30 minutes, Trump did not mention Obama’s birthplace. Instead, he paraded out Medal of Honor winners and war heroes who one after another endorsed the real estate mogul in front of millions of viewers.
When Trump finally took the podium to address Obama’s citizenship, the moment was brief. He addressed the birther movement in just 30 seconds, which was plenty of time for him to perpetuate the lie that Hillary Clinton started the conspiracy.
“Hillary Clinton, in her campaign of 2008, started the birther controversy,” he said. “I finished it. I finished it. You know what I mean. President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period.”
And with that (and a promise to “make America great again”), Trump left the stage.
The networks eventually cut away from the generals but then Trump was back at the mic — roughly 90 minutes after his event was originally slated to start. Meaning that he drew an hour and a half of live coverage for:
1. An empty podium
2. A series of military endorsements/testimonials
3. Three sentences from Trump himself — one that is totally false and two others that represent a total reversal from a position he held as recently as, well, Thursday night.
It was a low moment for politics and political coverage. A nothing-burger filled with falsehoods covered as though it was the Super Bowl. But for Trump, it might have been his crowning achievement: All eyes on him with the chance to direct the play in whatever way he saw fit. The ringmaster — calling the shots in all three rings of the circus. It was peak Trump.
JOHN KING: “We just got played. We just got played. And voters can decide what to make of that.”
— Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) September 16, 2016
I can tell John King what the voters will make of it. The press was used and abused and no one other than the people who were abused will be offended. This probably got Trump +2 points in the polls because the media may be the only people in the country with higher negatives than Trump.