In a new interview with TIME published Wednesday, Donald Trump mused on many topics, including his favorite: himself. The magazine's journalists seem to have caught him at a fleeting moment of honest introspection, with the president admitting that the atmosphere of paranoia and suspicion at the White House might have something to do with him.
"It could be my fault," the president said, evidently experiencing a fleeting moment of self-awareness. "I don't want to necessarily blame, but there's a great meanness out there that I'm surprised at." Then the self-awareness ended: "The only way you survive is to be combative."
Trump also told TIME how he gets away from it that "meanness"—by focusing on the positive. Unlike the rest of us, Trump said he no longer "watch[es] or read[s] things that aren't pleasant."
"In terms of your own self, it's a very, very good thing," he explained. "The equilibrium is much better. As far as newspapers and things, I glance at them. They're really dishonest. I mean, they're really dishonest."
Trump, of course, has a long history of lying and insulting people, particularly women. His campaign was all about conflict and controversy, and his presidency has been more of the same. In the same interview, Trump called CNN's Don Lemon "perhaps the dumbest person in broadcasting" and Stephen Colbert a "no-talent guy" with a "filthy" mouth. The president has fired shots at everyone from Ruth Bader Ginsburg (She "has embarrassed all by making very dumb political statements about me. Her mind is shot - resign!") to former prisoner of war Senator John McCain ("He's not a war hero… I like people who weren't captured").
Unsurprisingly, his administration has become as nasty as the president himself. White House press secretary Sean Spicer has reportedly told Politico reporters one of their colleagues is a "douche" and interrupted a press briefing to scold a veteran White House reporter for shaking her head. And adviser Steve Bannon apparently once called fellow White House staffer (and Trump son-in-law) Jared Kusher a "cuck."
Ultimately, Trump doesn't care as much about this kind of meanness as he does meanness that is directed at him—especially when it's the press being mean to him. "The truth is, I got a raw deal," Trump told TIME. As is obvious by now, the only person he cares about is himself. That's why he feels comfortable dishing out whatever insults he pleases and also why he can't take the backlash. Too bad.
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