It seemed to be a small incident on a busy day at the White House but it underscored how much President Donald Trump is troubled by what he considers the unrelenting antagonism of the “fake” news media.
The president was taking a victory lap after congressional passage of his tax bill. Wednesday and he asked members of his cabinet to join him in a prayer of thanks led by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson. But Trump couldn’t resist needling the media, telling reporters covering the event, “You can stay if you want, because you need the prayer more than I do, I think.” Turning to Carson, Trump said, “Maybe a good solid prayer and they’ll be honest, Ben.” Carson proceeded to thank God for the many blessings enjoyed by Americans and for the “courageous” leadership provided by Trump and his cabinet officers.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders made it clear that the president’s animosity toward the media runs very deep and will remain a central feature of his administration. Asked why Trump has some of the lowest approval ratings of any president in recent history – only 35 percent approval in the latest CNN poll –Sanders said, “While the president and this administration has been very focused on how we can better help the American people, I think oftentimes the media is focused on other things. Certainly not talking about the growing economy, certainly not talking about the crushing of ISIS [a terrorist group], not talking about the creation of jobs. If you look at the amount of time that is spent on negative coverage of this president, 90 percent of the coverage is negative about this president, when … I listed off a number things that have been pretty historic in nature in this first year. If people were focused on a lot more of those things in the media, I think his numbers would be a lot higher.”