At CPAC, Trump, who once masqueraded as his own spokesman, slams press for unnamed sources

At CPAC, Trump, who once masqueraded as his own spokesman, slams press for unnamed sources
Source: AP
Source: AP

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — President Donald Trump, a man who once pretended to be his own press agent to peddle blind tips about his love life, tore into the media Friday for quoting unnamed sources.

"We are fighting the fake news. It's fake. Phony. Fake. A few days ago I called the fake news 'the enemy of the people,' and they are," Trump told an appreciative crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual gathering of young conservative activists.

"They have no sources. They just make 'em up when there are none," Trump said. Trump is the first sitting president to attend CPAC in his first year in office since Ronald Reagan.

Trump, addressing a packed ballroom at a resort in the Washington suburbs, said news outlets should have to quote sources by name, rather than offer them anonymity to discuss sensitive topics.

The irony of the president's demands didn't go unnoticed.

Trump, as the Washington Post reported in May 2016, once had a habit of posing as a PR man (or two) to contact reporters with juicy gossip about his romantic escapades. 

Trump was widely mocked after the Post story dropped about his having pretended to be public relations men "John Miller" and "John Barron" in phone conversations with reporters.

Trump didn't attend CPAC, the stomping grounds of the far-right flank of conservatism, during the heat of the 2016 primary season, which miffed the conference organizers.

But this time around, he repeatedly brought the crowd to its feet as he threw body blows at the "dishonest" press — a theme he hammered away at during a campaign rally in Florida last weekend and at a fiery solo news conference prior to that.

"It doesn't represent the people. It never will represent the people. And we're going to do something about it," Trump promised attendees.

Trump threw around plenty of conservative red meat, giving his CPAC talk very much the feel of one of his big-league rallies during the 2016 race.

He struck out at "radical Islamic terrorism," putting coal miners back to work and defending the Second Amendment — and couldn't help throwing in a dig at vanquished former Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

Trump's talk went over well with the CPAC crowd, some of whom may have considered him a "Republican In Name Only" (or worse) in the past.

Janine Jakubaskas, a 25-year-old financial industry worker from New York, said in an interview that Trump may not have said much new, but his speech confirmed that he plans to make good on his campaign promises. 

As for his attacks on the media, "You can kind of understand where he's coming from, and I think it's totally valid."

As for the overall feel of this year's CPAC, Jakubaskas said, "I think people are just really excited, but at the same time, the sense that I've gotten is people are also very cautious in terms of how difficult it has been for President Trump to get what he wants done." 

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Celeste Katz

Celeste Katz is senior political correspondent at Mic, covering national politics. She is based in New York and can be reached at celeste@mic.com.

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