WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — President Trump devoted the majority of his time at a rowdy rally here on Thursday targeting the news media, deriding the reporters present as “fake, fake disgusting news.”
The rally, intended to galvanize support for Representative Lou Barletta, a Republican who is running for Senate in this fall’s midterm elections, did eventually turn to what Mr. Trump called “boring subjects,” but for much of the event, the president focused on his multiple grievances with the Washington press corps.
It underscored yet another day of tensions between the White House and the news media. During an afternoon news briefing, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the president’s press secretary, pointedly blamed the news media for that tension.
And while en route to Pennsylvania, Mr. Trump sought to play down comments from Ivanka Trump, his elder daughter and senior adviser, that explicitly disagreed with his description of journalists as “the enemy of the people.”
During the rally, supporters gleefully booed at every dig at the so-called fake news, laughing and jeering as Mr. Trump recalled conversations with his wife, Melania, about anticipating positive coverage, only to be disappointed by what he deemed to be critical headlines.
“They can make anything bad because they are the fake, fake disgusting news,” the president said.
And he was prepared to list his grievances.
He interrupted a 10-minute recollection of his 2016 election night victory to complain that the news networks had intentionally delayed results, claiming that Pennsylvania had been deprived of its chance to take credit for clinching his Electoral College victory.
He found fault with the coverage of his meeting with Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, after which Mr. Trump claimed that the North had ceased nuclear testing and had finally returned the remains of American soldiers killed during the Korean War — all thanks to his diplomacy, he said. (Despite his assurances, the country has continued testing, and it is unclear if and how the remains were properly identified.)
He mocked criticism of his passive demeanor in his meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in Helsinki, Finland, telling the crowd that a good relationship with the Russian president was to be celebrated. (“That’s a good thing folks, not a bad thing,” he said to applause.)
He dismissed concerns that he had antagonized allies during a gathering of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, arguing that, regardless of any tense discussions about funding and tariffs, “I have a better relationship with every one of them than any other president.”
And he insisted that the statistics detailing the positive effect of his administration’s policies — including the tax overhaul and employment numbers — had been grossly misrepresented or neglected altogether.
“Whatever happened to fair press?” he asked. “Whatever happened to honest reporting?”
Outside Washington — where his former campaign chairman is on trial for fraud and the special counsel is scrutinizing his Twitter activity — the president was at ease in front of an adoring crowd waving American flags and wearing Trump-branded apparel. Here, with supporters that included followers of QAnon and a Santa Claus, he controlled the narrative.
In between his shots at the news media, he cycled through some favorite topics.
He railed against Democrats, including Senator Chuck Schumer and Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Maxine Waters — the “new star of the Democrat Party,” he said — for consistently opposing his agenda.
He again threatened a government shutdown this fall if funding were not provided for a wall at the southwestern border.
And he extolled the “wonderful warriors” of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, slamming Democrats who have called for the agency’s abolishment.
Notably absent, however, was any mention of the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, into Russian election interference beyond a brief mention of the “Russian hoax.” Paul Manafort, the president’s former campaign chairman, spent his third day in court on Thursday as part of the first trial in that inquiry.
Mr. Trump did eventually endorse Mr. Barletta, and criticized Mr. Barletta’s opponent, Senator Bob Casey, the Democratic incumbent who has a significant lead in the polls. At one point, the president wondered whether he had even met the senator, whom he nicknamed “Sleepin’ Bob.”
Mr. Barletta, taking a brief moment at the microphone, enthusiastically listed Mr. Trump’s talking points and implored voters to show up for him in November: “Help me help President Trump drain the swamp.”
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