On Friday, Donald Trump trolled the media, then crushed them over the birther issue. He told the media that he’d be speaking about his comments on Thursday, when he said he didn’t want to talk about whether President Obama was born in the United States. Naturally, the media, expecting Crazy Donald to show up and start babbling nonsensically about long-form vs. short-form birth certificates, covered his event live. This, they thought, would be the moment when they would finally remind the American public that Trump is too crazy to be president!
Instead, Trump pitched his magnificent DC hotel, and then ushered up veteran after veteran to endorse him, explaining that war veterans are not the “deplorables” Hillary Clinton labeled his supporters. The media covered it, until they realized what Trump was doing. Then they cut away.
Whereupon Trump took the podium, announced that Hillary had created the birther questions, stating, “Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy, I finished it” – which is at least partially true – and then added curtly, “President Obama was born in the United States. Period.”
He then left the stage, taking no questions.
Donald Trump: “President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Period.” https://t.co/sKvdenBYQW
— ABC News (@ABC) September 16, 2016
Jake Tapper of CNN called the event a “political rickroll.” It was. John King said on CNN, “We just got played. We just got played.” They were. The entire media were played. They had to cover positive Trump news, they had to act as an ad agency for Trump properties, and then they had to headline that Trump had killed the birther rumors about him.
There could be fallout, of course. The media are angry, now – they think Trump’s lying to them, and they want to ask him what changed from his comments as recently as this year appearing to question the authenticity of Obama’s birth certificate. But if Trump just keeps repeating, mantra-like, that Obama was born in the United States, that leaves the media no place to go here. They’ll be forced to continue debating whether it’s true or not that Hillary had to do with birtherism – which is an uncomfortable conversation for them.
This was a master class in trolling. The media couldn’t be more angry. That’s decent evidence that Trump handled this idiotic issue – an issue he raised and prolonged – the best way he could have. That doesn’t mean it ever should have been an issue. But truth and decency have no place in Election 2016. All that matters is optics and manipulation. And Trump definitely did that right today.