Jimmy Fallon asked Donald Trump last night on The Tonight Show if he ever played the board game Sorry. Trump quipped that he preferred Monopoly.
The joke played out in real time Friday at an event in Washington that was billed as a press conference regarding Trump’s widely publicized “birther” claims about President Obama. For more than five years, Trump has insinuated that Obama was not born in the United States, and his ongoing attacks started the birther movement, a conspiracy that some extended to claiming Obama was a Muslim who wanted to change the U.S. Constitution.
However, today’s event, which was held at Trump’s glitzy new hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue and had been scheduled for 10 am but did not begin until closer to 11, was not a press conference at all.
It began with Trump making a pitch for his new hotel (the event was held in the ballroom). He then said this inaugural event was dedicated to Medal of Honor winners, two of whom were on the platform, along with some military brass and others.
But the real reason Trump wanted the press there was to promote his new hotel. At the end of the “event,” Trump finally said what people came to hear: “President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period. Now, we all want to get back to making America strong and great again.”
Wait a minute. What happened to the press conference? What about questions? Why did you change your mind, some of the reporters wanted to know? Are you going to apologize to the president?
Before they could finish a sentence, Trump had cut them off. The campaign declared that only the camera from the press pool could join the “tour” of the hotel, and no editorial presence was allowed. ABC News, the designated pool reporting team, was not about to produce an infomercial for Trump’s new hotel, so they pulled the camera off the so-called tour.
If you weren’t yet convinced that Trump is playing the media — and the voters — for all they’re worth, consider how everyone was manipulated. This was meant to be a milestone in the Trump campaign. Instead it provided an inadvertently transparent view of the billionaire: It revealed how he wants to use the highest office in the land to advance his brand.