The first month of President Donald J. Trump’s administration is continuing to receive mixed reviews, after a controversial and defensive news conference the administration held on Thursday, Feb. 16. Trump, whose administration has spent much of the past week contending with allegations of inappropriate ties to Russian officials, continued to criticize the media and its coverage of the White House.
This conference was unlike many given by former presidents, with Trump striking what many have interpreted as a combative attitude toward the press.
During the conference, Trump was visibly displeased, a noted departure from a number of previous presidents’ rigid composure in front of the press. Trump continued to call into question the truth and fairness of media coverage, remarking that his victory was “the biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan.” The president was corrected by a reporter, who reminded him that Obama won during his campaign in 2008 with 365 electoral votes.
The reporter was Peter Alexander, from NBC News. “Why should Americans trust you when you accuse the information they receive as being fake, when you’re providing information that is not accurate?” he asked the president.
The conference continued with Trump expressing his displeasure with the government that he inherited, stating that “It’s a mess.” While not defining which elements of the government are to his disliking, Trump was adamant that it is extreme — and that he will have to work hard to fix these issues, both at home and abroad.
When the topic of contacts with Russia was brought up, Trump was quick to defend his staff, saying, “Russia is a ruse. I have nothing to do with Russia. I haven’t made a phone call to Russia in years…Russia is fake news.” Trump further challenged the audience, asking if there were any good reporters in the room — and if so, for them to speak up.
Earlier in the week, the administration’s pick for Labor Secretary, Andrew Puzder, withdrew his nomination after he began losing support from both the public and his own party. Puzder, who is the CEO of Hardee’s Food Systems, was generally disliked and received opposition from Democrats as well as workers’ rights groups. This is the first nominee of the Trump administration to voluntarily step down.
The opposition that Puzder faced was primarily due to questions raised by opponents regarding his own employment practices. Further aggravating his opposition, Puzder admitted to hiring an undocumented immigrant to work for him as a housekeeper.
“I don’t know what he [Trump] is going for,” Emily Turner, a second-year political science student, said. “He has something going on, but I don’t think he is fully disclosing everything to the public,” she continued, explaining that there is “something weird in the air.”
On Thursday, President Trump held a news conference where he announced that his new nominee for Labor Secretary would be Alexander Acosta. Acosta is currently chairman of the U.S. Century Bank board and dean of the law school at Florida International University. His name may sound familiar, as he is the former assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice’s civil rights division during George W. Bush’s presidency. Acosta also served as a member of the National Labor Relations Board.
Acosta has since received positive feedback from those in the Republican party who previously opposed Puzder.