On Tuesday, President Trump held a White House meeting with a bipartisan group of members of Congress that was praised by media outlets, rightly or wrongly, for its relative normalcy.
Trump’s restraint apparently didn’t carry over into Wednesday. Because during a portion of a cabinet meeting open to the press, the president bragged about his “performance” during the immigration meeting and the “great reviews” he received from the media — including letters he claimed to receive from news anchors praising him.
“It was a tremendous meeting. Actually, it was reported as incredibly good, and my performance — you know, some of them called it a performance, I consider it work — but it got great reviews by everybody, other than two networks who were phenomenal for about two hours,” Trump said. “Then after that they were called by their bosses that say, ‘Oh, wait a minute.’ And unfortunately, a lot of those anchors sent us letters saying that was one of the greatest meetings they’ve ever witnessed. And they were great for about two hours, they were phenomenal and then they went a little south on us, but not that bad, it was fine.”
While Trump’s relatively reasonable tone during Tuesday’s meeting and his attempt to engage with Democratic members of Congress received praised, the message he sent during the proceedings was incoherent. At one point, Trump indicated he would support a “clean DACA bill” that would provide legal protections for Dreamers without forcing Democrats to support a border wall or measures to curtail immigration, but the White House walked back Trump’s comments later in the day.
On Wednesday, Trump didn’t detail what “anchors” sent the White House “letters” praising his “performance,” though there have been numerous reports about how administration staff presents the president with “special folders” each day filled “with screenshots of positive cable news chyrons (those lower-third headlines and crawls), admiring tweets, transcripts of fawning TV interviews, praise-filled news stories, and sometimes just pictures of Trump on TV looking powerful,” as Vice described the so-called “propaganda document” last August.
After bragging about his performance, Trump opined during the cabinet meeting that he thinks “the media will ultimately support Trump in the end, because they’re gonna say, if Trump doesn’t win in three years, they’re all out of business.”
Later, Trump said that one of his priorities for 2018 is to strengthen libel laws so articles and books like Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury that portray the Trump administration in a highly dysfunctional light cannot be published.
“We are going to take a strong look at our country’s libel laws so that when somebody says something that is false and defamatory about someone, that person will have meaningful recourse in our courts,” Trump said. “Our current laws are a sham and a disgrace and do not represent American values or American fairness.”
UPDATE (1/10, 1:30 p.m.): In response to requests for evidence to back up Trump’s claim about receiving “letters” of praise from “anchors,” the White House provided reporters with a list of video clips and tweets.
WH sent a list of video clips (from CNN) and tweets to back up Trump claim that he’s received “letters” from “anchors” praising his performance at DACA meeting pic.twitter.com/wH7XHf79Tk
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) January 10, 2018
But not only are the videos included in the list not letters, but the vast majority of the journalists mentioned by name aren’t anchors.