This morning the president reportedly greeted his staff at the Oval Office and said, “Let’s do a press conference today.” What resulted was a remarkable Trumpian performance that included his greatest hits, including half-truths (did you know he won 306 electoral seats, more than anyone since Reagan?), fulminations against the media, and a healthy dollop of casual racism.
What inspired this unexpected performance? GQ political correspondent Jason Zengerle had the best theory. “Seriously,” he tweeted. “Hard not to view that press conference as Trump’s message to Spicer. ‘Now THAT’S how it’s done.’” We know that Trump has been unhappy with Spicer’s performance as press secretary, particularly after Spicer was mocked on Saturday Night Live by Melissa McCarthy. Conversely, Trump praised Stephen Miller’s very aggressive handling of questions on recent appearances on the Sunday morning political shows.
So it would make sense that Trump’s press conference was aimed at an audience of one: Spicer. Trump wanted to show Spicer how to do his job. Which means future press conferences are going to be very combative indeed.