Tag Archives: Sean Spicer

18 Bizarre Moments From Trump’s Unhinged Press Conference

From Rolling Stone

Donald Trump took questions from the media on Thursday afternoon. The hastily called press conference came as a surprise to reporters, who would typically had a briefing with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer during that time. (According to reports, Trump walked into the Oval Office earlier that morning and said, “Let’s do a press conference today.”)

The event was ostensibly meant to roll out his new labor secretary nominee, Alexander Acosta. (Previous pick Andy Puzder bowed out Wednesday after it became clear to Republican Senate leaders they did not have enough votes to confirm him.) But the event had little to do with Acosta, and quickly devolved into one of the most remarkably incoherent spectacles in recent memory.

18 Bizarre Moments From Trump's Unhinged Press Conference

Here are some of the most noteworthy moments.

That time he batted back reports of chaos in the West Wing
“I turn on TV, open the newspapers and I see stories of chaos – chaos – yet it is the exact opposite. This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine.”

That time he confirmed the veracity of the leaks that lead to Michael Flynn’s resignation
“The leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake because so much of the news is fake.”

That time he couldn’t say Flynn lied
“The thing is, he didn’t tell our vice president properly, and then he said he didn’t remember … that just wasn’t acceptable to me.”

That time he characterized the rollout of his travel ban as “smooth”
“We had a very smooth rollout of the travel ban; we had a bad court.”

That time he called the country of Russia fake news
“Russia is fake news. Russia – this is fake news put out by the media. The real news is the fact that people, probably from the Obama administration because they’re there, because we have our new people going in place, right now.”

That time he denied knowledge of whether anyone from his team colluded with the Russian government during the campaign
“Nobody that I know of. How many times do I have to answer this question? Russia is a ruse. I have nothing to do with Russia. Haven’t made a phone call to Russia in years.”

That time he bragged about not being a bad person
“And I’ll tell you what else I see. I see tone. You know the word ‘tone’? The tone is such hatred. I’m really not a bad person, by the way. No, but the tone is such – I do get good ratings, you have to admit that – the tone is such hatred.”

That time he promised America and Russia would have a nuclear holocaust “like no other”
“We’re a very powerful nuclear country and so are they. I have been briefed. And I can tell you, one thing about a briefing that we’re allowed to say, because anybody that ever read the most basic book can say it, nuclear holocaust would be like no other. They’re a very powerful nuclear country, and so are we.”

That time he mused about attacking the Russian vessel lurking off the coast of Connecticut
“The greatest thing I could do [politically] is shoot that ship that’s 30 miles offshore right out of the water.”

That time he conceded his oft-repeated line about having the “biggest electoral margin since Ronald Reagan” is a lie
Reporter: “You said today that you had the biggest electoral margin since Ronald Reagan – 304, 306 electoral votes. In fact, President Obama got 365 in 2008.”
Trump: “Well, I’m talking about Republicans.”
Reporter: “President Obama 333, George H.W. Bush 426 when he won. So why should Americans trust…”
Trump: “I was given that information, I was just given it. We had a very big margin.”
Reporter: “I guess the question is: Why should Americans trust you when you accuse the information they receive as being fake, when you’re providing information that is not accurate?”
Trump: “Well, I was given that information. I was, actually, I’ve seen that information around. But it was a very substantial victory. Do you agree with that?”
Reporter: “You’re the president.”

There is more.  He is delusional and the President of the United States.

Why Trump’s Staff Is Lying

A must read column by Tyler Cowen on Bloomberg View

Why Trump's Staff Is LyingOne of the most striking features of the early Trump administration has been its political uses of lying. The big weekend story was the obviously false claim of Donald Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, that Trump pulled in the largest inauguration crowds in American history. This raises the question of why a leader might find it advantageous to promote such lies from his subordinates.

First and most obviously, the leader wishes to mislead the public, and wants to have subordinates doing so, in part because many citizens won’t pursue fact-checking. But that’s the obvious explanation, and the truth runs much deeper.

By requiring subordinates to speak untruths, a leader can undercut their independent standing, including their standing with the public, with the media and with other members of the administration. That makes those individuals grow more dependent on the leader and less likely to mount independent rebellions against the structure of command. Promoting such chains of lies is a classic tactic when a leader distrusts his subordinates and expects to continue to distrust them in the future.

Another reason for promoting lying is what economists sometimes call loyalty filters. If you want to ascertain if someone is truly loyal to you, ask them to do something outrageous or stupid. If they balk, then you know right away they aren’t fully with you. That too is a sign of incipient mistrust within the ruling clique, and it is part of the same worldview that leads Trump to rely so heavily on family members.

In this view, loyalty tests are especially frequent for new hires and at the beginning of new regimes, when the least is known about the propensities of subordinates. You don’t have to view President Trump as necessarily making a lot of complicated calculations, rather he may simply be replicating tactics that he found useful in his earlier business and media careers.

He continues

Trump specializes in lower-status lies, typically more of the bald-faced sort, namely stating “x” when obviously “not x” is the case. They are proclamations of power, and signals that the opinions of mainstream media and political opponents will be disregarded. The lie needs to be understood as more than just the lie. For one thing, a lot of Americans, especially many Trump supporters, are more comfortable with that style than with the “fancier” lies they believe they are hearing from the establishment. For another, joining the Trump coalition has been made costlier for marginal outsiders and ignoring the Trump coalition is now less likely for committed opponents. In other words, the Trump administration is itself sending loyalty signals to its supporters by burning its bridges with other groups.

These lower-status lies are also a short-run strategy. They represent a belief that a lot can be pushed through fairly quickly, bundled with some obfuscation of the truth, and that long-term credibility does not need to be maintained. Once we get past blaming Trump for various misdeeds, it’s worth taking a moment to admit we should be scared he might be right about that.

So the overall picture is this: The Trump administration trusts neither its own appointees nor its own supporters, and is creating a situation where that lack of trust is reciprocal. That is of all things a strategy for getting things done, and these first one hundred days are going to be a doozy.