During his Friday speech at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, President Trump got booed for criticizing "fake" news. While he mostly stayed on script for his prepared remarks, the president's question-and-answer session was brasher and inspired some negative backlash, most notably in the form of loud boos, which are rare for such a formal and high-profile event.
Trump made his comments about the media in response to a personal question from Klaus Schwab, the forum's founder and leader: "What experience from your past has been most useful in preparing you for the presidency?" The president spoke about his experience as a businessman and then shifted to discussing his press coverage.
"I've always seemed to get a disproportionate amount of press or media, throughout my whole life — somebody will explain someday why, but I've always gotten a lot," Trump said during the Q&A. "As a businessman I was always treated really well by the press, you know ... and it wasn't until I became a politician that I realized how nasty, how mean, how vicious, and how fake the press can be."
At this point, members of the audience, according to reporters covering the event, began booing and hissing. Washington Post journalist Ishaan Tharoor reported that some of the boos were coming from foreign journalists near him. The Atlantic's Steve Clemons indicated that it was coming from the crowd at large.
Trump's comments also drew some laughs. The president flinched slightly, but largely ignored both reactions to continue speaking.
The Guardian's Graeme Wearden, who was reporting from Davos, said that the crowd's reaction was "something I’ve not heard before." But it wasn't a unique moment at Trump's address.
Just before the president gave his speech, Schwab was booed, too, after he suggested that the largely negative views of Trump both within America (the most recent polls show that 56 percent of Americans disapprove of the job Trump is doing as president) and internationally (global approval of U.S. leadership dropped 18 percentage points over Trump's first term) were unjustified.
"I'm aware that your leadership is open to misconceptions and biased interpretations," Schwab said. His words were met with "loud groans in the room," according to The Los Angeles Times.
The World Economic Forum is an annual meeting of the world's elites in Davos, Switzerland, in which leaders discuss international cooperation and battling economic inequality. Trump — who was elected on an anti-globalist platform — seems a a strange attendee for such a gathering. But the forum has largely (with the exception of this booing) been treating him with respect. Time magazine reports that many guests view the forum as an opportunity to try to better understand Trump.
Israeli attendee Eyal Gura dismissed the idea that Trump was out of place at the event, but only because the forum features so many problematic leaders. To Time, he said, "I don’t think Trump coming here is anything special. You have hundreds of other world leaders here, including nondemocratic leaders, people who violate human rights and so on."
During his speech, Trump called for greater foreign investment in the United States and bragged about the recent stock market boom. He stressed the importance of North Korean denuclearization and asked other countries to participate in pressuring Kim Jong Un's regime. He reiterated his "America First" message, but tempered it slightly.
"I will always put America first just like the leaders of other countries should put their country first also," he said. "But America First does not mean America alone. When the United States grows so does the world."
The World Economic Forum concludes on Friday. Trump's speech was one of the final events.