U.S. President Donald Trump held a press conference on Feb. 16 that was exceptional even by his own standards.
The United States’ 45th president uttered his now infamous quip, “fake news,” more times than it’s worth counting (Russia — in particular — is “fake news”).
Trump claimed that the only way to avert a “nuclear holocaust” was to improve ties with Russia. At times Donald sounded uncannily like Vladimir Putin who over the course of his 17 years in office has mastered the art of the soundbite.
Compare the quotes from Donald Trump’s press conference to Putin’s famous aphorisms.
TRUMP: What was wrong was the way that other people, including yourselves in this room, were given that information, because that was classified information that was given illegally. That’s the real problem.
PUTIN: As far as media representatives are concerned, I have a joke we used to tell when I worked for a very different organization. They were invited here to peek, but they’re eavesdropping instead. Bad. [annual phone-in 2006, defending controversial rape joke overheard by journalists]
On the media
TRUMP: Unfortunately, much of the media in Washington, D.C., along with New York, Los Angeles in particular, speaks not for the people, but for the special interests and for those profiting off a very, very obviously broken system. The press has become so dishonest that if we don’t talk about, we are doing a tremendous disservice to the American people.
PUTIN: Over the past several years, some of the most influential media outlets in Europe have turned into a tool to manipulate public opinion. Information wars have become a daily reality. The co-opted media prefer to present a distorted picture of what is going on to suit entrenched interests, and planted news stories have begun not only to ruin individual lives but also to redefine the political landscape of entire countries. [kremlin.ru statement, congratulating Italian newspaper on its 150 years anniversary, February 2017]
On the popular vote
TRUMP: I’ll be in Melbourne, Florida five o’clock on Saturday and I heard — just heard that the crowds are massive that want to be there. I turn on the T.V., open the newspapers and I see stories of chaos. Chaos. Yet it is the exact opposite.
PUTIN: I can assure you that I often hear from my supporters - ordinary people, not phoney supporters, ordinary people I’m meeting around the country - that many indeed would like it to happen [for me to return to the Kremlin]. [2011 interview with Russian media, speaking as Russian prime minister]
On getting bad press
TRUMP: I don’t mind bad stories. I can handle a bad story better than anybody as long as it’s true and, you know, over a course of time, I’ll make mistakes and you’ll write badly and I’m OK with that.
PUTIN: When I’m hearing critical remarks from people who are genuinely concerned about the country and want to improve it, I know they’re worth listening to and will adjust my approach accordingly. [2011 annual phone-in]
TRUMP: One promise after another after years of politicians lying to you to get elected. They lied to the American people in order to get elected. Some of the things I’m doing probably aren’t popular but they’re necessary for security and for other reasons.
PUTIN: Political populism always poses a great danger because it disorients people, creates excessive expectations or, on the contrary, prioritizes objectives that are clearly not priorities or are simply impossible to achieve. This work is either useless or harmful, because there is nothing good about populism. [2016 interview with Japanese media]
On form versus content
TRUMP: But they were hacked and terrible things came in. And, you know, the only thing that I do think is unfair is some of the things were so — they were — when I heard some of those things I picked up the papers the next morning and said, oh, this is going to be front page, it wasn’t even in the papers.
PUTIN: Besides, does it really matter who hacked Mrs. Clinton’s election campaign team database? Does it? What really matters is the content shown to the community. This is what the discussion should be held about. There is no need to distract the attention of the community from the essence of the subject substituting it with secondary questions dealing with the search of those who did it. [2016 Bloomberg interview]