WASHINGTON, U.S. - U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday turned his impromptu East Room news conference into a campaign rally.
In a combative mood, the president trashed the country's most influential news outlets, just two days before he set out for a rally in Florida, where he said the crowds will be "massive."
"I won," Trump said bluntly, explaining to the media why they weren't important, even as he slammed their coverage and said he coveted better stories. "The people get it."
Trump said he was puzzled by the “hatred” coming from the media, and insisted that he’s being unfairly treated — “I’m really not a bad person, by the way,” slamming the media for being dishonest and unfair.
"The press is out of control," he stated. "The level of dishonesty is out of control."
Pinning the blame of the current "mess" on his predecessor President Obama, he remarked “To be honest, I inherited a mess. It’s a mess. At home and abroad, a mess.”
After the previous press conferences he’s held, where he was relatively subdued, on Thursday, Trump appeared in his element and sparred with reporters, at times menacing, other times playful, while dissecting individual questions, telling reporters to hush and asking for a friendly reporter in the room.
“I love this. I’m having a good time doing it,” the president remarked.
After weeks of disclosures in newspapers over turmoil in his administration, Trump told one reporter to "sit down" for a rambling question.
"Tomorrow, they will say: 'Donald Trump rants and raves at the press,'" Trump said.
"I'm not ranting and raving. I'm just telling you. You know, you're dishonest people. But I'm not ranting and raving."
During his 77-minute news conference, his most unrehearsed encounter with the media since last summer, he also accused reporters of spreading "very fake news."
He, however, made a one potentially important statement saying he was not aware that any of his campaign advisers were in contact with Russian officials. "Nobody that I know of," he said.
But, as usual, there were very few specifics mentioned in the course of the conference.
Although the event was ostensibly supposed to be about his new labor secretary nominee, Alexander Acosta wasn't even in attendance.
Instead, Trump chose to target the media, attempting to gain some momentum in a floundering presidency in his first solo news conference.
"There has never been a president that has done so much in such a short period of time," Trump said, reading a list of his own accomplishments, also accusing reporters of ignoring a poll showing him with a 55 percent approval rating - a figure at odds with most other surveys.