Hey, Reporters, Donald Trump Has Had Enough of Your Questions
Policy + Politics

Hey, Reporters, Donald Trump Has Had Enough of Your Questions

REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

The United States does not have a tradition of public deference toward its presidents in modern times, much less toward presidential candidates, and that seems to really irritate the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Donald Trump’s belief that he is entitled to be taken at his word -- despite copious proof that he has lied, misled, and distorted the truth multiple times -- was never more on display than at his epic meltdown of a press conference Tuesday.

The event was supposed to give Trump a chance to account for the money he raised for veterans in a televised event four months ago. But the billionaire former reality television star turned it into a frontal assault on the members of the media.

Related: Trump Hits the Panic Button at the Hint of a Third-Party Run

Calling one reporter “sleaze” and blasting the press as “unbelievably dishonest” Trump looked peevish and angry, and he seemed truly resentful of the fact that members of the news media asked any questions at all about the disposition of the money he raised.

The 40-plus minute event was the usual Trumpian pastiche of bogus grievances, half-truths and outright lies. There was his absurd-on-its-face claim, repeated ad nauseam, that he “didn’t want to take credit” for raising money for veterans’ charities. And his insistence that merely raising questions about the disposition of the funds was “probably libelous.”

In all, the billionaire again proved that he is stunningly thin-skinned for a public figure and, more troublesome for a major party presidential candidate, that he feels he is entitled to the sort of deference from the press that is not -- and should not be -- available to a someone aspiring to the highest office in the land.

“The press should be ashamed of themselves. And on behalf of the vets, the press should be ashamed of themselves,” Trump said. “Instead of being, like, ‘Thank you very much, Mr. Trump,’ or ‘Trump did a good job,’ You say, 'Well who got it? Who got it?’ And it makes me look very bad.”

Related: The Libertarian Johnson-Weld Ticket Is Bad News for Donald Trump

The idea that Trump somehow believes that the job of the political press is to praise him -- and even to thank him -- is almost as breathtaking as the fact that he seems to expect people to believe that the fundraiser he held for veterans was something he did “out of the goodness of my heart.”

A little reminder: Trump’s veterans fundraiser was, in point of fact, a calculated political event that -- questionably -- mixed the work of the Trump Foundation and Trump’s campaign.

It was held on January 28 in Des Moines, Iowa, at exactly the same time that Fox News was hosting a debate featuring all of the other Republican candidates for president. Trump had previously made a big show of refusing to participate in the debate, claiming that host Megyn Kelly would treat him unfairly. Trump made it clear that part of his intention in scheduling the event when he did was to damage the ratings of the Fox debate.

His event was carried live and in its entirety by C-SPAN and One America Network, and all of the major news networks other than Fox cut to it regularly. Despite its supposed charitable intent, Trump spoke from behind a podium emblazoned with his campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” and delivered remarks virtually indistinguishable from a campaign speech.

Trump claimed to have raised $6 million that night, which is possible given pledges that never paid, later downgraded to $5.6 million. But the amount of free media coverage his campaign received as a result of the event was likely worth a whole lot more than that.

Given that background, an aggressive fact-check of Trump’s claims about the fundraiser was necessary. Trump’s petulant reaction to that fact-check, given everything he has demonstrated about himself in the past year, was probably inevitable.