For several weeks, President Donald Trump has continued to wage his self-proclaimed “running war with the media.” During a press conference, he evaded inquiries about his campaign’s contact with Russian officials by ignoring mainstream media reporters, only taking questions from those working for conservative news outlets. Before his inauguration, Trump shouted down Jim Acosta of CNN, referring to the network as “fake news,” a label he has also applied to the New York Times. The president frequently rails against the “dishonest” press, and his chief strategist, Stephen Bannon, told the media to “keep its mouth shut.”
However, on Tuesday, four days after he led off a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference with a lengthy diatribe against the press, Trump addressed a joint session of Congress for the first time, barely mentioning the media at all. He simply spoke about “providing a voice to those who have been ignored by our media.” Surprisingly, there were no denunciations of “fake news, or talk about journalists comprising an “opposition party” or being the “enemy of the American people.”
In a Wednesday appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”, Vice President Pence made it clear that Trump’s tonal shift is only temporary. In an interview with co-hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, here’s what the conversation looked like:
BRZEZINSKI: Is the war on the media over? Are we going to hear the words “fake news” anymore or is that page turned?
PENCE: Well, I think what you have in this president — and frankly all of us in the administration — is a willingness to call out the media when they play fast and loose with the facts.
BRZEZINSKI: He called us the enemy of the people. It’s pretty strong terminology.
PENCE: Yeah, well, Mika, when you see some of the baseless and fabricated stories that have come out and been treated with great attention, you know, it’s frustrating.
SCARBOROUGH: But, you know, “enemy of the people”? That’s a Stalinist term.
PENCE: Well, look —
BRZEZINSKI: And blocking media. Are we going to see that again?
SCARBOROUGH: Was that a turning point? He’s moving away from that sort of rhetoric?
PENCE: I think one of the reasons why President Donald Trump was elected is because he’s a fighter. The American people want a president who will fight for their future, who will fight for American jobs, fight to make America strong in the world again but also, you know, he’s willing to make his case and challenge his detractors when unfair criticisms come his way.