The morning after news broke that President Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, received $500,000 in payments from a Russian oligarch following the 2016 presidential election, Trump lashed out at “The Fake News.”
“The Fake News is working overtime,” the president wrote in the first tweet he posted on Wednesday. “Just reported that, despite the tremendous success we are having with the economy & all things else, 91% of the Network News about me is negative (Fake). Why do we work so hard in working with the media when it is corrupt? Take away credentials?”
The Fake News is working overtime. Just reported that, despite the tremendous success we are having with the economy & all things else, 91% of the Network News about me is negative (Fake). Why do we work so hard in working with the media when it is corrupt? Take away credentials?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 9, 2018
The tweet was standard fare for Trump in some respects. The president has repeatedly decried that much of his media coverage is negative, and he’s repeatedly threatened to curtail the free press — in this case, by taking away outlets’ credentials to cover him, but in the past by publicly flirting with the idea of restricting the First Amendment. He’s also banned outlets from his rallies and press briefings.
But there was also a major tell in Trump’s tweet. Perhaps more explicitly than he ever has before, by writing “negative (Fake),” the president made explicitly that he considers all negative coverage of him to be fake.
It’s possible that Trump is conditioning his supporters to dismiss future revelations about Cohen and his connections with Russia. During an interview with Anderson Cooper, the attorney who broke the news on Tuesday evening about the $500,000 payments to Trump’s lawyer, Michael Avenatti, raised the possibility that some of the Russian money may ultimately have been funneled through Cohen to the Trump Organization.
Meanwhile, over on Trump’s favorite network — Fox News — the Cohen revelations were completely blacked out throughout primetime.
It remains unclear exactly what evidence is in the FBI’s possession following the raid on Cohen’s office last month. Trump, who talked with Cohen after the raid, presumably has a better idea.