Donald Trump avoided the Conservative Political Action Conference in the heat of the Republican primary last year, amid rumors that some attendees would stage a walkout during his remarks. A year later, he appeared at the annual gathering as president, and was greeted not by protests but by a rapturous crowd of supporters prepared to cheer his every sentence.
To a large degree, the speech was an echo of remarks that White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon had made at the same event the day before, heavy on attacking the media, stoking nationalist sentiment and repeatedly asserting that the Trump administration is busy keeping the promises it made during the election.
After greeting the crowd, Trump quickly launched into a lengthy attack on the press.
“I want you all to know that we are fighting the fake news,” he said. “It’s fake, phony, fake. A few days ago I called the fake news the enemy of the people and they are. They’re the enemy of the people.”
Trump claimed that his comments about the press had been misreported, and that he had only singled out what he calls the “fake” news, not the entirety of the journalism world. But Trump’s original tweet had named a number of major news outlets. (He wrote, “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”)
On Friday, despite saying that he was not against all media, he continued to paint with a very broad brush.
“Many of these groups are part of the large media corporations that have their own agenda and it’s not your agenda. And it’s not the country’s agenda,” he said. “It’s their own agenda. It doesn’t represent the people, it never will represent the people and we’re going to do something about it because we have to go out and we have to speak our minds and we have to be honest.”
What the administration will “do” about the media remained unsaid. However, Trump did call for an end to anonymous sourcing in news stories. “I am only against the fake news media or press. Fake. Fake. I’m against the people that make up stories and make up sources. They shouldn’t be allowed to use sources unless they use someone’s name. Let their name be put out there. Let there be no more ‘sources.’”
As Bannon had the day before, Trump also spoke out against globalism, saying “The core conviction of the movement is that we are a nation that will put its own citizens first.”
While it is important to have good relations with other countries, he said, “There is no such thing as a global anthem, a global currency or a global flag. This is the United States of America. I’m not representing the globe. I’m representing your country.”
He was temporarily drowned out by chants of “U-S-A! U-S-A!” from the raucous crowd.
“There is one allegiance that unites us all and that is to America,” he continued. “No matter our background income or geography we’re all citizens of this blessed land.”
All Americans, he added, bleed “the same red blood of great, great patriots.”
Trump talked up his administration’s stepping the deportation of undocumented immigrants, saying at one point, “We’re getting bad people out of this country. People that shouldn’t be [here] whether it’s drugs or murder.”
At another, he generated cheers for the Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement by saying, “We’re also going to save countless American lives. As we speak today, immigration officers are finding the gang members, the drug dealers, the criminal aliens and throwing them the hell out of our country.”
Trump also promised to oversee “one of the greatest military buildups in American history,” noting that he is about to submit “a massive budget request for our beloved military.”
He said, “We will be substantially upgrading all of our military. Bigger and better and stronger than ever before. Nobody’s going to mess with us, folks.”
He again raised the specter of terrorism in Europe, citing a list of European cities that he suggested are now danger zones.
“Take a look at what’s happening to our world folks,” he said. “We have to be smart. We can’t let it happen to us.”
He added, “In a matter of days we will be taking brand new action to protect our people and make America safe,” but did not explain further.
Referring to many of his actions in his first month as president, Trump said, “Basically all I’ve done is keep my promise.”