President Trump arrives to speak to service members at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar on March 13 in San Diego. (Evan Vucci/AP)

When President Trump positions himself in front of large populations of civilians at public venues, he routinely criticizes the “fake news” media for this imagined offense or that imagined offense. People love it; they clap; he nods. Therefore, he repeats the ritual.

And when Trump positions himself in front of the men and women entrusted with protecting “the American way of life” — including, for example, the First Amendment — the same calculus prevails. In an address to service members at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego on Tuesday afternoon, the president riffed about creating a “Space Force.” “I said ‘maybe we need a new force, we’ll call it the space force.’ And I was not really serious, and then I said ‘what a great idea, maybe we’ll have to do that.’ ”

“That could happen, that could be the big breaking story,” Trump said. “Look at all those people back there, look at that,” Trump said, calling the crowd’s attention to the assembled media. “Ahhhh, that fake news.” The crowd roared its approval.

Mission accomplished.