New York: President-elect Donald Trump filled his press conference with paid staffers who clapped and cheered as he blasted certain sections of the media for peddling in “fake news”, according to a media report.
It was Trump’s method of battling an extraordinary report that US intelligence officials have presented both Trump and President Barack Obama with unverified allegations that Russia has compromising information on the incoming 45th president, the Politico reported.
“With three of his grown-up children, Vice President-elect Mike Pence, and members of his senior staff looking on from the sides, Trump framed the anticipated barrage of questions about his connections to the Russians as a referendum, instead, on the untrustworthy media, seated in seven rows of plastic folding chairs in front of him,” the report said.
The Greek chorus of loyal, paid staffers in the back of the room boosting Trump with their hoots and cheers also served as a reminder, of sorts, of the movement of Trump backers happy to take him at his word and jeer the media as the “out-of-touch liars”, it said.
“It’s very familiar territory, news conferences,” said Trump as he took the podium.
“We stopped giving them because we’re getting quite a bit of inaccurate news,” he said, before calling Buzzfeed, the website that published the full 35-page unverified dossier of allegations against Trump, a “failing pile of garbage”.
“Fake news” became the running theme of the hour-long press conference, which peaked with Trump refusing to take a question from CNN reporter Jim Acosta and yelling at him, “I’m not going to give you a question. You’re fake news.”
“Do you honestly believe that Hillary Clinton would be tougher on Putin than me?” Trump asked during the press conference. Some staffers in the room responded to the rhetorical question, yelling out, “No!” And they cheered again when Trump jeered sarcastically at a reporter who asked if he planned to release his tax returns, the report said.
“Oh gee”, the President-elect said, employing a verbal eye roll, “I’ve never heard that before. The only ones who care about my tax returns are the reporters. I became president.”