KEVIN FREKING and MARCY GORDON
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump used a White House conference Thursday to applaud far-right social media provocateurs even as he conceded that some of them are extreme in their views.
Trump, who has weaponized social media to eviscerate opponents and promote himself, led a “social media summit” of like-minded critics of Big Tech, excluding representatives from the very platforms he exploits.
The president used the event to air grievances over his treatment by Big Tech, but also to praise some of the most caustic voices on the right, who help energize Trump’s political base.
“Some of you guys are out there,” he told them. “I mean it’s genius, but it’s bad.”
Trump singled out for praise James O’Keefe, the right-wing activist whose Project Veritas organization once tried to plant a false story in The Washington Post. In May 2010, O’Keefe and three others pleaded guilty in federal court to a misdemeanor in a scheme in which they posed as telephone repairmen in Sen. Mary Landrieu’s New Orleans district office.
“He’s not controversial, he’s truthful,” Trump insisted of O’Keefe.
Playing to the friendly crowd in the East Room, Trump was at ease, joking about everything from his spelling in tweets (blaming his thumbs, not his brain, for any mistakes) to his hair (saying the rainy weather at his July 4 outdoor speech at least proved his hair was real.)