The president-elect’s first press conference in months showed that victory has not tempered him. The media, his own party and ordinary Americans must hold him to account
If a one-hour press conference is anything to go by, Donald Trump’s manner, style and message after he enters the Oval Office next week will resemble the persona he has enjoyed putting out on Twitter: making shocking or unexpected policy statements, creating confusion, lashing out recklessly and deflecting attention from anything deemed threatening. If anyone thought that president-elect Trump would be a milder, more presentable, or in any way a different version of what his campaign offered up, those hopes will have been disappointed by his performance in New York. If anything, there was more truculence and bluster, aggression and thin-skinned narcissism than ever, in his first press conference for more than six months.
With it came the reminder of why Mr Trump had avoided such scrutiny for so long, preferring social media messaging. Having to face questioning by media organisations is tiresome; something to cut as short as possible. Mr Trump’s bullying of journalists on Wednesday came alongside renewed attacks berating US intelligence agencies, which he believes are plotting to undermine him. A preposterous comparison with “Nazi Germany” showed there would be no moderation. But his efforts to fend off controversial allegations of compromising material supposedly compiled by Russian agents showed he was as much on the defensive as the offensive. Whether the whole episode will do anything to damage his popularity ratings remains to be seen. He is after all the great transgressor that many voters wanted, a man whose vulgarity and provocations seem to have no bounds, nor his capacity to stay afloat despite them all.