He couldn’t help himself. At a campaign rally in Wisconsin on Wednesday night, Donald Trump patted himself on the back several times, like a child proving he’s not having a tantrum. “By the way, do you see how nice I’m behaving tonight?” he asked the crowd. “Have you ever seen this?”
And yet even in the midst of a crude attempt at possible mass murder of leading Democrats, when the moment called for humility, peace and unification, the US president could not resist taking a swipe at his oldest foe of all.
The media has “a responsibility to set a civil tone and to stop the endless hostility and constant negative and oftentimes false attacks and stories”, Trump blasted.
And on Thursday there was more to come. He tweeted: “A very big part of the Anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News. It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!”
John Berman, an anchor on CNN, responded: “Let me tell you what the mainstream media has been doing this morning: We’ve been reporting on a bomb … sent to either kill, threaten, or scare.”
After all, like all autocrats, Trump loves scapegoats and summoning the threat of “the other”. On the day he launched his presidential campaign in June 2015, he demonised Mexicans crossing the border as “criminals” and “rapists”, adding as an afterthought: “And some, I assume, are good people.”
But having spent much of his career in the fierce culture of New York tabloids, Trump has a unique love-hate relationship with the media. The love part is about narcissism and an attention-seeking ego.
He is the master of throwing the proverbial dead…