Trump kicks off 2020 by ripping into the media: “They're part of a corrupt system”

February 18, 2017, 7:57pm

MELBOURNE, Fla. — Twenty-nine days after being sworn in, President Donald Trump kicked off his reelection campaign with a rally where he called the crowd his “friends” and framed the press as his enemy.

Speaking in a muggy airplane hangar in front of a crowd local officials pegged at 9,000-strong, Trump said he wanted to speak “without the filter of the fake news.”

“They’ve become a big part of the problem. They’re part of the corrupt system,” he said.


Trump promised: “When the media lies to the people I will never ever let them get away with it,” and warned the media “have their own agenda.”

It was an invigorated and in-control Trump that took the stage in front of a cheering crowd — a stark contrast to the Trump that’s stumbled during his first few weeks as president back in Washington. He delivered a largely standard stump speech, to a typically adoring crowd, and was introduced, unexpectedly, by his wife before taking the podium.

Trump used the speech to paper over what’s been by all accounts a rocky start to his tenure, marred by major policy defeats, the recent resignation of his National Security Adviser, nationwide protests and continued questions over his advisers’ relationships with Russia.

“The White House is running so smoothly,” he told the crowd.

The president listed a litany of accomplishments — moving towards approval of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines; reducing regulations — and some he hasn’t yet achieved, like taking “decisive action to keep radical Islamic terrorists the hell out of our country.” His one move in that direction — banning immigration from some majority-Muslim nations — was blocked in the courts.

Trump took particular ire with that court decision, calling it “unbelievable” and “so unfair,” and reading a statute he said defended his right as president to establish the ban, which judges ruled was too sweeping.


But he promised a new travel ban would come next week: “I think you’ll be impressed; we’ve got to keep our country safe,” he said.

He also promised action on Obamacare and rolling back environmental regulations, which he said were “clogging up the veins of our country.”

However surreal the campaign-style rally was so early into his tenure, it still marked the use of a more traditional presidential tactic: Speaking from the bully pulpit to move national sentiment in his favor. Trump told the crowd to “tell Democrats to stop their tactics of delay and obstruction and destruction,” lamenting the slow pace of confirmation for his cabinet nominees.

With Trump’s approval rating underwater in every recent poll, it’s unclear whether the president will have the same ability to use the bully pulpit to regain control of the news cycle or turn it in his favor.

But rallies were always both Trump’s strength and his source of energy during the campaign, and indeed he told reporters on Air Force One before descending onto the stage that it’s bigger than just a rally for him — “Life is a campaign.”

“Making our country great again is a campaign. For me, it’s a campaign. To make America great again is absolutely a campaign,” he said.

“It’s not easy, especially when we’re also fighting the press.”