President Trump is setting new records in White House transparency with the DC press corps by not hosting a single solo press conference in roughly a year and a half.
The one and only time Trump held a solo press conference as president was on February 16, 2017, shortly after former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was forced to resign amid rumors that he had inappropriate conversations about Russian sanctions with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. prior to Trump’s inauguration. As of this writing, Trump has not yet held a solo press conference four months into the second year of his presidency.
Trump’s last solo press conference, which lasted a little over an hour, also came on the heels of Labor Secretary nominee Andrew Puzder withdrawing his name from consideration after the Oprah Winfrey Network sent lawmakers video testimony of his ex-wife recounting her experience of domestic violence at Puzder’s hands.
During the press conference, Trump repeatedly berated the reporters who asked him questions, characterized the wave of mass protests at airports in the wake of his travel ban rollout as “very smooth,” and suggested that an African American correspondent be the one to set up a meeting between the White House and the Congressional Black Caucus, asking, “are they friends of yours?”
In one exchange with CNN’s Jim Acosta, President Trump referred to CNN as “very fake news” and complained that none of the network primetime news programs were fair to him other than Fox & Friends.
“I mean, it’s story after story after story is bad. I won. I won,” Trump said, asserting that his 2016 electoral victory should entitle him to more positive media coverage. “I would be your biggest fan in the world if you treated me right.”
President Trump’s lack of solo press conferences puts him in unparalleled territory in comparison with past presidents. In his first year on the job, former President Barack Obama held seven press conferences, according to the University of California-Santa Barbara’s (UCSB) American Presidency Project. The fewest solo press conferences any first-year president had prior to Trump was four, during the Gerald Ford administration.
Given how busy the 2018 news cycle has been, with multiple school shootings, new indictments and guilty pleas in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russian officials, the saga involving hush money that Michael Cohen — Trump’s personal “fixer” — paid to adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, and threats of a possible Democratic wave election in the 2018 midterms, Trump is undoubtedly due for another solo press conference.
Jake Shepherd is a freelance writer from Cleveland, Ohio. He enjoys poring through financial disclosure statements, spirited debate, and good scotch. He remains eternally optimistic about the Browns. Email him at jake.d.shepherd.21 (at) hotmail (dot) com.