President Trump evidently doesn’t know the definition of “press conference.”
Last Friday, after two days of unusual engagement with the White House press corps, Trump promised to hold a “pretty big press conference” at the White House on Monday.
But the White House didn’t set up any press conference. Instead, he gave a hastily-arranged speech without answering any questions.
When he came before cameras a second time Monday, and CNN’s Jim Acosta, who was in the room serving as pool reporter, asked about the lack of a presser, Trump said, “We had a press conference. We just had a press conference.”
As Acosta pressed, asking if reporters could ask more questions, Trump turned to him and said, “I like real news, not fake news, you are fake news.”
Acosta responded: “Haven’t you spread a lot of fake news yourself, sir?”
Trump’s declaration that “we had a press conference” seemed to confirm what some White House correspondents already surmised — that Trump is counting any appearance in front of the press corps as a press conference.
Journalists, historians and past presidents all agree on a different definition. A “press conference” is a structured, seated event where the president fields a series of questions.
“Press availabilities” or “Q&A sessions” are more informal opportunities to ask questions, sometimes by reporters who stand and shout.
“It’s not a press conference if you don’t take questions from reporters,” CNN White House reporter Kaitlan Collins said on air.
David Graham of The Atlantic said on Twitter that Trump “says confidently that there was a press conference that didn’t happen, which is some aggressive gaslighting.”
Trump has held about a dozen relatively short joint press conferences with foreign heads of state since taking office in January. But he has not held a full-fledged solo press conference since February 16, breaking with decades of presidential precedent.
The presser drought has been getting more and more attention in recent weeks.
CNNMoney (New York) First published August 14, 2017: 3:41 PM ET