On Thursday, President Trump held a news conference to announce his new nominee for secretary of labor
Kayleigh McEnany: For Trump supporters, the press conference was a victorious display of confidence
Editor’s Note: Kayleigh McEnany is a CNN commentator and a graduate of Harvard Law School. She studied politics at Oxford University. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely hers.
While the establishment politicians and the left scoff at President Trump’s Thursday press conference, Trump voters celebrate a victorious display of confidence. After a week of rampant speculation about selective leaks from the intelligence community, Trump boldly took to the East Room podium to address a room full of inquisitive journalists.
Undeterred by critical reporting, Trump did not cower behind a press secretary with carefully crafted words, as most politicians would do. Instead, he himself spoke directly to the American people, breaking through the interpretive lens of the media.
Trump voters deemed his press conference a success for several reasons: He directed the conversation back to the issues; he showed his undeterred fortitude in tackling the tough questions; and he corrected the record.
According to the latest CNN poll, 90% of Republicans approve of the way Trump has handled the presidency thus far. Often left out of the media narrative are the reasons why Republicans feel this way. GOP voters look to the President and see a litany of accomplishments: a soaring stock market, withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, elimination of job-killing regulations, expedited permit approval, a hiring freeze on nonessential federal workers and a task force for reducing violent crime, among others. All this in just three weeks.
Trump press conference
These accomplishments, however, rarely garner media attention, except for Thursday when Trump listed them before a captive media audience, saying “I’m making this presentation directly to the American people with the media present. …”
In addition to placing a spotlight on his work, Trump showed his willingness to tackle tough questions rather than hide from them. During the Republican primary, Trump was open to interviews from all media outlets, both hostile and friendly. While other politicians granted few interviews and were reserved in their media access, Trump was known for his unprecedented openness in taking on any interviewer.
For Republican primary voters who applauded Trump’s willingness to address criticism head on, Thursday was a return to the candid, refreshing straight talk for which Trump has become so beloved.
But perhaps most importantly of all, Trump’s press conference provided a needed retort to the onslaught of speculation surrounding intelligence leaks that have consumed the news cycle. From the resignation of national security adviser Mike Flynn to leaked suggestions that Trump campaign affiliates communicated with Russian intelligence officials, Americans were given a select and partial set of facts provided by leakers.
Amid these leaks, many unknowns persisted. For instance, very few individuals have seen the transcripts of Flynn’s conversation with the Russian ambassador. Nevertheless, commentators have speculated that Flynn acted inappropriately in his discussion with the ambassador.
Trump, who presumably has been briefed on the transcript, used his press conference to defend his former national security adviser, justifying the content of the call while emphasizing the flawed way Flynn communicated his call to the vice president.
Trump also provided a retort to the nefarious assumptions that he and his campaign staff had connections with Russia. He emphasized that “nobody that I know of” had any contact with Russian intelligence officials and rebutted the sinister suspicions that the left has inserted into the factual gaps left open by the leaks.
Rather than dodging questions on these distracting leaks, Trump willingly answered them – not through a scripted press secretary – but directly from the mouth of the President to the ears of the people.
Although the establishment forces that repeatedly underestimated Trump saw Thursday’s press conference through a prism of negativity, Trump’s voters cheered in the reassurance that we finally have a “politician” who governs as he campaigned.