Russian journalist Alexey Kovalev, in the wake of Trump’s farcical press conference last week:
Given that Putin is probably a role model for Trump, it’s no
surprise that he’s apparently taking a page from Putin’s playbook.
I have some observations to share with my American colleagues.
You’re in this for at least another four years, and you’ll be
dealing with things Russian journalists have endured for almost
two decades now. I’m talking about Putin here, but see if you can
apply any of the below to your own leader.
Facts don’t matter. You can’t hurt this man with facts or reason.
He’ll always outmaneuver you. He’ll always wriggle out of whatever
carefully crafted verbal trap you lay for him. Whatever he says,
you won’t be able to challenge him. He always comes with a bag of
meaningless factoids (Putin likes to drown questions he doesn’t
like in dull, unverifiable stats, figures and percentages),
platitudes, false moral equivalences and straight, undiluted
bullshit. He knows it’s a one-way communication, not an interview.
You can’t follow up on your questions or challenge him. So he can
throw whatever he wants at you in response, and you’ll just have
to swallow it. Some journalists will try to preempt this by asking
two questions at once, against the protests of their colleagues
also vying for attention, but that also won’t work: he’ll answer
the one he thinks is easier, and ignore the other.
Trump wants to bully the press and profit off the presidency. He’s
told us this clearly in his own words. We need to accept the
reality of both. The press should cover him on that basis, as a
coward and a crook. The big corporate media organizations may not
be able to use those words, I understand, but they should employ
that prism. The truth is that his threats against the press to
date are ones it is best to laugh at. If Trump should take some
un- or extra-constitutional actions, we will deal with that when
it happens. I doubt he will or can. But I won’t obsess about it in
advance. Journalists should be unbowed and aggressive and with a
sense of humor until something happens to prevent them from doing
so. Trump is a punk and a bully. People who don’t surrender up
their dignity to him unhinge him.