Marathon presser par for the course for President

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For anybody who didn’t watch President Trump’s news conference last Thursday, it was a humdinger.

It was an exercise in incoherence and a masterclass in denial and deflection. To paraphrase an old Simpsons joke, picture Trump standing before his audience of journalists and saying this to himself: “Facts, logic, reality – these are the three demons you must slay in order to succeed in a press conference.”

Much of it was par for the course for Trump. But I think what kept me glued to the screen was the sheer scope of the presentation – it was a marathon session, a sustained effort from a combative, free-wheeling Trump. I wanted to stop watching, but I couldn’t. It was surreal seeing this man who endlessly complains about the media from his Twitter “safe space” complain about them in person. I imagine he fancied himself as Neo facing off against a hundred Agent Smiths a la “The Matrix

It’s no secret that Trump and his cohorts – Spicer, Conway, etc. – engage in Jedi mind tricks with language and words. The Trump Administration’s antagonistic approach to the press is well-documented. Last month, Trump’s chief strategist and all-around swell guy, Steve Bannon, called the media “the opposition party,” and said that is should “keep its mouth shut.”

This kind of talk is incredibly disconcerting and frightening. These guys are on a ceaseless campaign to delegitimize the independent press and make the administration the only source of news and information.

So, it was great to see the Fourth Estate in action, pushing back against Trump directly to his face. I guess I’m trying to look for the small “silver linings” from the press conference.

The fact that Trump took questions from more than hand-picked softball throwers was, you know, a good thing. He called on real journalists. Granted, he tried to bully and talk over them, but he had to acknowledge reality. For instance, Trump tried to repeat his lie about having the biggest Electoral College win “since Ronald Reagan.”

When challenged on that line, presented with factual information to the contrary, and asked why people should trust him, Trump acquiesced, but not before a last-ditch evasion. “Well, I don’t know, I was given that information … but it was a very substantial victory, do you agree with that?” It went from “the biggest ever” to “substantial” – that’s progress.

At one point, Trump even said the following words to a reporter: “OK, fair question.” Holy hell, that is progress, people!

Trump still did have a number of doozies: “The rollout was perfect,” “there’s no chaos,” and my favorite, “I know when you’re telling the truth or when you’re not. I just see many, many untruthful things.”

Scratch that – this was my favorite: “The press – the public doesn’t believe you people anymore. Now, maybe I had something to do with that. I don’t know.” Yeah, you’re damn right about that, man.

All politicians lie to some degree, and I know it’s nothing new to say apropos Trump. “What else is new, this is par for the course.”

Trump, Conway, the press secretaries – they want to wear people down; it’s a game of attrition. Just keep repeating outright steaming piles of horse manure and maybe, they think, people will just say “I give up.”

It takes constant vigilance to keep these people on the level. Words do matter a great deal in life, reality – just in general, you know – and it was refreshing to see Trump be held accountable for some of them.

While the relentless, disheartening assault on the media and factual reporting will continue for the foreseeable future, I remain hopeful that the side of truth, facts and reality will ultimately win out.