On Friday, the broadcast networks continued their hyperventilating over President Trump taking on the media during his Thursday press conference. All three morning shows were beside themselves as hosts and correspondents breathlessly hurled one sensational adjective after another to describe the event, including: “raucous,” “combative,” “shocking,” “jaw-dropping,” “unhinged,” and “astonishing.”
At the top of NBC’s Today, co-host Matt Lauer declared: “...the President holds a raucous and combative face-off with the media, defending his first month in office....This morning, the highs and lows of a White House news conference like no other in history.” Introducing the coverage moments later, he noted: “...a lot of the talk is still focused on those fireworks from Mr. Trump's first solo news conference.”
Correspondent Peter Alexander told viewers: “For anybody who followed President Trump's campaign, that news conference was both totally shocking and entirely unsurprising. This was a rare glimpse into the mind of the President, basically the verbal equivalent of a tweet storm.” The reporter decried the “free-wheeling, at times jaw-dropping, 77-minute news conference” in which Trump “defiantly dismissed the flood of controversies and crises engulfing his White House.”
Leading off ABC’s Good Morning America, co-host George Stephanopoulos announced: “The President defends his first month in office in a fiery face-off with the press.” He went on to open the show by stating: “What a presidential press conference. Never seen anything like it before. President Trump unfiltered, 77 minutes. His critics said he was unhinged at that time.”
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In a panel discussion minutes later, Stephanopoulos explained: “Big goal of the press conference for the President to advance his campaign to delegitimize the mainstream media and show his supporters he's taking them on.”
After a series of soundbites played of Trump doing just that, Rasmussen political analyst Amy Holmes observed: “He's having a great time....I think he did succeed, however, in showing his toughness. That’s one of the great strengths he had in the campaign and one of the things that his voters liked most about him it's his willingness to take on the mainstream media.”
Opening CBS This Morning, co-host Norah O’Donnell hyped: “In an extraordinary news conference, President Trump comes out swinging, attacking his critics and defending his first month.” Moments later, she added: “President Trump holds an astonishing news conference....an unprecedented display of accusations and exaggerations.”
Fellow co-host Gayle King chimed in: “The President’s outburst of frustration left many observers bewildered.” In the report that followed, correspondent Margaret Brennan incredulously remarked: “President Trump flatly denied the notion that he's running a disorganized and ineffective White House.”
Here are excerpts of coverage on the NBC, ABC, and CBS morning shows:
7:02 AM ET
MATT LAUER: We have a lot to talk about, it is our top story. There’s some fresh turmoil at the White House overnight. A former Navy officer has now rejected the President's offer to be his national security adviser. But a lot of the talk is still focused on those fireworks from Mr. Trump's first solo news conference. Our political team standing by. We’ve got it all covered. Let's start at the White House, with NBC's Peter Alexander. Peter, good morning to you.
PETER ALEXANDER: Hey, Matt, good morning to you. For anybody who followed President Trump's campaign, that news conference was both totally shocking and entirely unsurprising. This was a rare glimpse into the mind of the President, basically the verbal equivalent of a tweet storm. And this morning, the President's team is again hunting for a national security adviser, as President Trump's choice weighing the call of duty vs White House dysfunction, according to a senior U.S. official, chose to take a pass.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Trump’s NSA Pick Turns Down Job; Harward Declines Offer to Take Flynn Role]
This morning, the White House is again looking for a national security adviser, after the President's pick to replace Michael Flynn, Vice Admiral Robert Harward, declined the President's office. It comes after a free-wheeling, at times jaw-dropping, 77-minute news conference.
DONALD TRUMP: There has never been a presidency that's done so much in a such a short period of time.
ALEXANDER: After announcing his second pick for Labor Secretary, Alexander Acosta, President Trump defiantly dismissed the flood of controversies and crises engulfing his White House.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Trump Goes on the Offensive; President Blasts Media, Defends Performance in Rowdy Q & A]
TRUMP: This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine.
ALEXANDER: While defending his decision to fire Michael Flynn for misleading the Vice President...
TRUMP: The thing is, he didn't tell our Vice President properly.
ALEXANDER: ...Mr. Trump aired a laundry list of grievances.
TRUMP: The tone is such hatred. I'm really not a bad person, by the way.
ALEXANDER: Blaming leaks.
TRUMP: The leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake because so much of the news is fake.
ALEXANDER: Blaming the media.
TRUMP: Tomorrow, they will say, “Donald Trump rants and raves at the press.” I’m not ranting and raving, I’m just telling you. You know, you're dishonest people.
ALEXANDER: And blaming his predecessor.
TRUMP: I inherited a mess. It's a mess.
ALEXANDER: In fact, by comparison, President Obama inherited a far bigger mess in 2009, facing the deepest recession since the Great Depression. The unemployment rate then, nearly 8%. Upon President Trump's arrival, 4.8%.
7:02 AM ET
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: What a presidential press conference. Never seen anything like it before. President Trump unfiltered. 77 minutes. His critics said he was unhinged at that time. Two things we know for sure never seen a presidential press conference like that and just one month into his presidency we know exactly what's on the president's mind.
7:07 AM ET
STEPHANOPOULOS: Big goal of the press conference for the president to advance his campaign to delegitimize the mainstream media and show his supporters he's taking them on.
DONALD TRUMP: Many of our nation's reporters and folks will not tell you the truth. It's all fake news.
It's all fake news. Russia is fake news. Russia -- this is fake news put out by the media. The public doesn't believe you people anymore. I want to just tell you the false reporting by the media, by you people, the false, horrible, fake reporting makes it much harder to make a deal with Russia.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's talk to our roundtable right now. Our Senior White House Correspondent Cecilia Vega, our political analyst Matthew Dowd and Amy Holmes, political analyst for Rasmussen. Thanks for coming in. The president also tweeted this morning and said thank you for the nice statements. Rush Limbaugh said one of the greatest ever. Fake media, not happy. So the president had a strategy here. Did he succeed?
MATTHEW DOWD: If it was to get everybody focused and talking about him and having everybody analyze him, he did succeed in that. My view is if you take a look at what the country thought of this, 25% of the country who loves Trump loved that because it was a total assembly of him in all his glory, 25% of the country who hates trump hated that and was probably aghast at it and 50% of the country where they are, was probably concerned, a little bit confused and probably slightly nervous in the aftermath.
STEPHANOPOULOS: He certainly seemed to love it.
AMY HOLMES: And he said so. He's having a great time. I think the key is what he said at the very beginning he was trying to reach the American people with the press just present. Basically relegating them to nattering nabobs of negativity. I think he did succeed, however, in showing his toughness. That’s one of the great strengths he had in the campaign and one of the things that his voters liked most about him it's his willingness to take on the mainstream media.
CBS This Morning
7:03 AM ET
NORAH O’DONNELL: President Trump's first solo news conference at the White House was an unprecedented display of accusations and exaggerations. He said nearly everything Americans have heard about in his first four weeks of office is wrong. He defended his actions, blasted his critics and denied reports of a White House in chaos during which what you would call a pretty free-wheeling press conference that was all about trying to take back the narrative.
GAYLE KING: The President’s outburst of frustration left many observers bewildered. His news conference lasted 77 minutes. He took at least 40 questions from 17 different reporters.
ANTHONY MASON: The President gave few details on policies, but he did promise a new order on immigration and gave timelines for overhauling ObamaCare and the federal tax code. Margaret Brennan is at the White House. Margaret, good morning.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Good morning. After tough news about the challenges facing his White House, President Trump decided he'd personally take control of the news cycle with this press conference and this morning he's already tweeted that Rush Limbaugh told him in it was “one of his greatest.”
DONALD TRUMP: Tomorrow, they will say, “Donald Trump rants and raves at the press.” I’m not ranting and raving.
BRENNAN: It felt like a throwback to the campaign.
TRUMP: That’s how I won. I won with news conference and probably speeches. I certainly didn't win by people listening to you people.
BRENNAN: Now playing out in the East Room of the White House.
TRUMP: I turn on the TV, open the newspapers and see stories of chaos, chaos.
BRENNAN: President Trump flatly denied the notion that he's running a disorganized and ineffective White House.
TRUMP: It's the exact opposite. This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine.
BRENNAN: He pinned the blame for the negative reviews on his favorite target.
TRUMP: The press is dishonest people. The press is honestly out of control. The press has become so dishonest.