Trump ratchets up attack on media at conservative forum
‘I want you all to know that we are fighting the fake news . . . They have no sources’
What a difference a year makes. During his election campaign, strands of the Conservative movement were deeply uncomfortable with the brand of Republicanism espoused by Trump, with its eclectic brand of economic nationalism and personal bombast. But his electoral victory has forced many in the Republican Party to confront and embrace what Trump called a “movement like nothing the world has ever seen”.
Trump lost no time in taking command of the packed congress centre, as he addressed the crowd. “Now you have a president,” he said to cheers. He embarked straight away on a lengthy diatribe against the media, revisiting now familiar territory.
“I want you all to know that we are fighting the fake news . . . They have no sources. They just make them up when there are none. “
He was at pains to point out that his much-criticised description of the media as the “enemy of the people” had been taken out of context, and he was really referring to “fake news”.
“I am only against the fake news media or press. I’m against the people who make up stories, and make up sources. They shouldn’t be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody’s names.”
Then followed a new phrase that is likely to enter the Trump lexicon: “There are no sources.”
As he prowled across the stage picking out individuals from the crowd and waving, Trump moved on to other familiar topics – his pledge to protect American jobs, fortify the country’s borders and revisit America’s “broken and embarrassing trade deals”.
“We are going to massively lower taxes on the middle class, reduce taxes on American businesses and make the tax code much more fair for everyone, including the people and the business,” he said, without offering further detail.
He promised “one of the greatest military build-ups in history” as he pledged to invest in the military.
The promised wall along the border with Mexico would be finished “way, way, way ahead of schedule”, he said, as he focused on “getting bad people out of this country”.
He also referenced healthcare reform. “Millions of people were very happy with their healthcare. They had their doctor, they had their plan,” he said, pledging to “repeal and replace Obamacare” despite a new poll showing that support for Obamacare has increased.
Lock her up
Among the other speakers on the third day of the annual conference was Ukip founder Nigel Farage, who was introduced by his former aide, and current Breitbart News London editor, Raheem Kassam.
“We did it! We did it!” Farage exclaimed as he took to the stage for a session on Brexit.
LikeTrump, he too had been dismissed by the mainstream media and pollsters , he said. But he prophesied that 2016 would hail the start of a “great global revolution”.
“The generations that follow up study the history of this period, there is one year that will stand up, that every child will know. That year is the year of 2016. We witnessed the beginning of a global political revolution . . . and it is not going to stop,” he said.
But there was some signs of hesitancy among the rhetoric as Farage suggested that the great political revolution he has identified may not be born out in the “very exciting” elections due this year in Europe.
“Even if the challengers don’t get over the line this year, what they will do is shift the centre of gravity of the entire debate,” he said, noting that people all over Europe were rejecting “supranational government”.
As the CPAC conference draws to a close on Saturday, Trump supporters may well congratulate themselves on entering the inner sanctum of mainstream Republicanism. This year’s conference was dominated by Trump politics, with senior Trump officials Stephen Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Reince Priebus and vice-president Mike Pence addressing the event.
But within hours of Trump’s appearance at CPAC his battle with the media was back in full swing, with a number of organisations, including those who had been critical of Trump, barred from participating in a press briefing with press secretary Sean Spicer.
Trump may have played to a captive audience at Maryland, but the relationship between the president and traditional media is as fraught as ever.