On his final day of campaigning, Donald Trump managed to pack into one minute the anti-media spirit (and many arguments) of the past 17 months.
At a rally in Scranton, Pa. — as he has in so many other places — the Republican presidential nominee pointed angrily toward the journalists in press row.
“See the dishonest people back there?” Trump said. “The media, they're totally dishonest. They are so dishonest.”
In response, the crowd took up a chant: “CNN sucks! CNN sucks!” Trump backed away from the microphone, smiling, letting the fury wash over him. Then he stepped back up and resumed his diatribe.
“They are so dishonest, folks,” Trump said. “You can't even read articles in certain papers anymore. New York Times is a total lie. You can't, I mean, you can't — it is so false. Nothing to do with me. I'm just telling you, such lies. Such lies, such fabrications, such made-up stories. Now the Times is going out of business pretty soon. That's the good news.”
Trump appeared at various times during his campaign to be softening his attitude toward the media. But in the end, he was as hostile as ever.
In September, the candidate said he would end the practice of blacklisting certain news outlets, including The Washington Post.
“I figure they can't treat me any worse!” Trump told CNN at the time.
Publications that were previously denied credentials to campaign events received them in the final two months of the election, but Trump never warmed.
In late October, it looked like Trump might emerge from his Fox News cocoon and grant interviews to other TV networks on a regular basis. In a single day, he appeared on CNN, ABC and Bloomberg News.
It turned out to be a fluke, however. Trump remained relatively inaccessible down the stretch.
Just last week, Trump talked to himself during a rally about staying on message.
“Stay on point, Donald,” Trump said to himself onstage in Pensacola, Fla. “Stay on point. No sidetracks, Donald.”
He couldn't do it. The same day, he singled out NBC's Katy Tur for ridicule, and his subsequent speeches often veered into rants against the media.
At least Trump, who never allowed reporters to travel with him on the same plane, was consistent. After every slight indication that media relations might improve, he returned to form.
The version of Trump that reporters saw on the first day of the campaign is the same one they experienced on the last.