Attacking the media is about as routine for President Donald Trump as knotting his tie, but he got especially personal Monday during a Rose Garden press conference to announce his new trade deal with Mexico and Canada.
The president directly insulted one reporter, refused to answer questions about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh until he was done taking queries on trade, and called the media “loco.”
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After calling on ABC News’ Cecilia Vega for a question, Trump said, “She’s shocked that I picked her. Like in a state of shock.”
Vega responded, “I’m not, thank you, Mr. President.”
“That’s OK. I know you’re not thinking, you never do,” Trump replied.
“I’m sorry?” Vega asked. When she then tried to ask a question about Kavanaugh, Trump cut her off, asking instead for a question on trade. She eventually complied with a trade query, and Trump returned to her later in the news conference to let her ask her Kavanaugh question.
Still, his insistence on directing the press conference deviated from the norm for White House events, when reporters are free to ask about the news of the day.
After the press conference, Vega tweeted, “A news conference means you get to ask whatever question you want to ask. #FirstAmendment.”
Similarly, when CNN’s Kaitlan Collins asked a question about Kavanaugh early in the press conference, Trump refused to answer. “Don’t do that,” he said. “Do you have a question on trade?”
When Collins protested, Trump wagged a finger and said, “Don’t do that.”
Collins — who in July said she was barred from covering a White House event after the president objected to her questions earlier that day — asked her question anyway, which Trump ignored, shifting to another reporter.
“Trump just shouted down @kaitlancollins because she asked a question about Kavanaugh instead of trade,” tweeted Washington Post reporter Philip Rucker. “Good for Kaitlan for trying. In the U.S., journalists ask questions and politicians — even if they’re president — don’t get to dictate the subject matter.”
Other reporters similarly expressed support. NBC News’ Hallie Jackson tweeted, “@kaitlancollins isn’t there to be nice. She’s there to do her job. Which is: to ask the president questions – whether he likes them or not.”
Trump later gave Collins a chance to ask her Kavanaugh question, but when she tried to ask a second follow-up, Trump raised his palm and said, “You know what, you’ve really had enough,” and moved to another reporter.
Trump also declared during the press conference that the media has treated him “unbelievably unfairly.”
“They’re worse now than ever. They’re loco. But that’s OK, I put up with it,” Trump said, adding, “I use that word because of the fact that we made a deal with Mexico.”
Trump has four campaign rallies scheduled this week, meaning that Monday’s press conference was likely just the beginning of a week that could be filled with presidential criticism of the press.