The job of a White House correspondent in the Trump era consists largely of asking obvious questions after the president has said or done something so inexplicable that some sort of explanation grounding those words or actions in perceivable reality is necessary.
That and — particularly if you are a female reporter — absorbing whatever abuse that the surly Trump sends your way for asking a perfectly reasonable question.
The president’s hostility towards any journalist but those that accept his words as truth — and merely parrot his deceptive talking points — is easily explained.
His attitude stems from a narcissism so deep that he cannot envision a world where whatever spews forth from his mouth isn’t meant to be accepted without challenge or demand for evidence of its actuality. It also stems from a deep-rooted misogyny towards strong women —whether they be the Speaker of the House or a persistent reporter — and a prickly paranoia that control of his desired messaging is slipping out of his grasp.
Trump admitted as much when even before he was elected he told CBS News‘ Lesley Stahl this about why he constantly attacks and belittles the free press:
“You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all so when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you,” Stahl recalls Trump saying to her while the cameras were off.
It is a tactic that the president has stuck with throughout his presidency and one that he exhibited again today.
Asked if he'll abide by Ford's policies and wear a mask when he visits a plant on Thursday, Trump says a bunch of words without answering the question pic.twitter.com/sLUM4p5on6
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 19, 2020
President “I don’t take responsibility at all” naturally finds any question trying to hold him accountable for his actions — or more recently, during the COVID-19 pandemic, his flagrant inaction — to be rude as he attempts to undermine the very premise of accountability as simply a case of bad manners of the part of the offending journalist who is injuring his delicate sensibilities with a topic not to be discussed in polite company.
The imperial and dismissive manner in which he brushes off the reporter — “that’s enough of you” — is a window into Trump’s character, if he can be said to possess anything resembling character.
Trump won’t be able to escape the ultimate accountability in November, however. He apparently wants the unquestioned powers of a king or a dictator.
It’s time to show him that — in America’s democracy — it’s the people who have the final authority and Trump’s game just won’t cut it.
Original reporting by Aaron Rupar at Vox.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.