The first media conference of US president-elect Donald Trump after he attained that status was a peek into how his relations with mainstream media would be – cantankerous and turbulent. Trump was brutally frank – at one stage calling CNN ‘fake news’ and refusing to take questions from the leading news channel’s reporter – but that only contributed to keeping the relationship with the media prickly. He accused CNN and BuzzFeed of being “fake news” outlets because they reported on an unverified report, compiled by a former British intelligence agent that stated that Russia has embarrassing personal and economic information about the incoming president. He blasted the intelligence agencies and alluding to them said: “I think it’s a disgrace, and I say that … that’s something that Nazi Germany would have done and did do.” The media conference itself did not provide many substantive answers about conflicts of interest, which was ostensibly what the main topic was. At the beginning of the media conference, Trump said he believed that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee, then followed up by stating he believed that lots of other nations hack the United States, too.
Trump was at his combative best when he described Barack Obama’s pet progamme Obamacare as a disaster, promising to scrap it and replace it with something more utilitarian. He said in the context of illegal immigration from Mexico that it has been taking advantage of the US. The wall to block illegal immigration will come up and Mexico will pay for it, he added. Trump was indeed stumped when the Mexican president pooh-poohed talk of financing the putting up of the wall. In the context of Mexico, the president-elect pledged to impose “a major border tax” on companies that move production overseas and sell goods back to the US. The President-elect did not dwell on immigration beyond that but he has been saying that he wants to scrap the H-1B visa – a non-immigration visa which allows US companies to hire highly talented professionals temporarily and which is extremely important to the Indian software industry. The removal of this visa will have a disastrous effect on the Indian software companies that send some of their staff to work on-site with their clients in the US through this visa.
In keeping with their new president’s tough line, his secretary of state, Tillerson echoed his sentiment when he said the US would send a “clear signal” that the China must abandon its artificial islands in the South China Sea. He said China’s appropriation of the disputed waters and its declaration of an air defence identification zone over the Japanese-controlled Senkaku islands in the East China Sea were “illegal actions”. All in all, Trump’s aggression did not go down well with American media. Indeed, his presidency would be stormy unless he learns to moderate his views and his articulation of those.