NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland—On Friday morning, the attendees of CPAC were finally treated to the oratorical gifts of the man White House chief strategist Steve Bannon called straight-facedly the greatest rally speaker “since William Jennings Bryan.”* President Donald Trump began inauspiciously, as he often does, with an attack on the media. His tweet castigating five of the most significant news outlets in America as fake news–peddling “enemies of the people,” had been, he said, mischaracterized:
I am only against the fake news media or press—fake, fake, they have to lead that word. I’m against the people that make up stories and make up sources. They shouldn’t be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody’s name. Let their name be put out there.
This coming from a man who spent years—years—parading himself in front of the press claiming that unnamed sources and investigators had produced evidence that the president’s birth certificate was a fraud. As Slate’s Ben Mathis-Lilley noted, this is a man who moreover admitted to having impersonated an imaginary publicist to update the press about his sex life and reportedly spent years doing this.
In any case, Trump is soundly losing his war with journalists. According to a Public Policy Polling survey released on Friday, 53 percent of voters disagree with Trump that the critical mainstream press are enemies; 48 percent of voters see Trump as a greater threat than the media.
The mendacities of Trump’s speech, like his sentences themselves, ran on and into each other. He claimed Friday that Obamacare covers “very few people.” It expanded coverage by an estimated 20 million people. He said he had been endorsed by the federal agency Immigration and Customs Enforcement during the campaign. He was not. He said that the Keystone XL pipeline would likely create around 42,000 jobs. A month ago, while signing an executive order greenlighting Keystone, he claimed it would create 28,000. Keystone will create 50 permanent jobs by the end of its construction; no more than 16,000 people will be employed in building it, many of them only for a few months.
Ludicrously and predictably, Trump additionally claimed that supporters had lined up for six blocks outside the Gaylord Convention Center to try to get into the speech. The fake news media, up to their dirty tricks again, responded on Twitter with photographs:
All of this passed either without notice or to splashes of applause from a wildly enthusiastic crowd, which was revved up enough to revive the “lock her up” chant and treated to yet another relitigation of Clinton’s “deplorables” comment from Trump.
“Who would have thought that a word would place so badly,” Trump asked. “That’s the problem with politics. One wrong word and it’s over.”
Another falsehood. Contradicted in full by the Trump presidency thus far.
*Correction, Feb. 24, 2017: This post originally misattributed the William Jennings Bryan quote to White House chief of staff Reince Priebus.