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Donald Trump is his very own North Korean anchorwoman.


Dictators have traditionally relied on state media to cast even their most quotidian accomplishments in hagiographic terms. The most famous state propagandist might be Ri Chun-hee, the North Korean television anchor who lards her pronouncements with breathless paeans to leader and country. Here is how she described her country’s fourth nuclear test in 2016: “There took place a world-startling event to be specially recorded in the national history spanning 5,000 years in the exciting period when all service personnel and people of [North Korea] are making a giant stride, performing eye-catching miracles and exploits day-by-day after turning out as one in the all-out charge to bring earlier the final victory of the revolutionary cause!”

Fortunately, the United States has not quite yet devolved into abject Stalinism, which means our authoritarian president cannot reliably depend on the media to do the embellishing for him. In his interview last night with ABC’s David Muir, Trump took it upon himself to convey the smashing success of the speech he gave earlier this week to the CIA, which was widely panned for its petty obsession with the size of his inauguration crowd and was dogged by reports that Trump had brought in a claque of supporters to ensure there was plenty of applause. In so doing, he channeled Ri and her kind to eerie perfection.

That speech was a home run. That speech, if you look at Fox, OK, I’ll mention you—we see what Fox said. They said it was one of the great speeches. They showed the people applauding and screaming and—and they were all CIA...

I got a standing ovation. In fact, they said it was the biggest standing ovation since Peyton Manning had won the Super Bowl and they said it was equal. I got a standing ovation. It lasted for a long period of time. What you do is take—take out your tape—you probably ran it live. I know when I do good speeches. I know when I do bad speeches. That speech was a total home run. They loved it...

People loved it. They loved it. They gave me a standing ovation for a long period of time. They never even sat down, most of them, during the speech. There was love in the room. You and other networks covered it very inaccurately. I hate to say this to you and you probably won’t put it on but turn on Fox and see how it was covered. And see how people respond to that speech...

That speech was a good speech. And you and a couple of other networks tried to downplay that speech. And it was very, very unfortunate that you did. The people of the CIA loved the speech. If I was going to take a vote in that room, there were, like, 300, 350 people, over 1,000 wanted to be there but they couldn’t. They were all CIA people. I would say I would’ve gotten 350 to nothing in that room. That’s what the vote would’ve been. That speech was a big hit, a big success—success.