WASHINGTON – The press reported it as a presidential meltdown.

A rant of epic proportions.

It would not be much of a stretch to say the establishment media characterized President Trump at his news conference on Wednesday as practically unhinged.

Rush Limbaugh had a different take.

“Folks, he’s enjoying this like I’ve never seen a president enjoy a press conference. He’s toying with these people,” observed the talk-show kingpin.

However, the headlines screamed:

  • CNN: Trump lashes out
  • New York Post: Trump goes on marathon rant against the media
  • Politico: Trump complains that he ‘inherited a mess’ in rant against media
  • Washington Post: Trump airs grievances at sprawling news conference, says he ‘inherited a mess’
  • Mediaite: Chuck Todd: Donald Trump’s Delegitimization of Press ‘Un-American,’ ‘Not a Laughing Matter’
  • USA Today: Trump’s 80-minute press conference stuns even political insiders

Trump could see the headlines coming.

At one point during the nearly hour-and-a-half news conference, the president mused, “Tomorrow they will say, ‘Donald Trump rants and raves at the press!’ I’m not ranting and raving. I’m just telling you, y’know, you’re dishonest people.”

After that remark, Limbaugh said of the press, “They’ve unleashed a tiger here is what they’ve done.”

In fact, Limbaugh seemed to enjoy watching Trump go after the press just as much the president seemed to be enjoying himself.

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The talk-show host played the press conference live during his daily radio show, and turned himself into something of a play-by-play announcer, offering commentary, quips and asides as the marathon event progressed.

Here are some more of the highlights.

CNN’s Jim Acosta somewhat accusingly asked, “When you call it fake news you’re undermining confidence in our news media. Isn’t that important?”

“You’re doing that to yourself, Acosta. He’s not,” observed Limbaugh, adding, “He tells the reporters when they ask good questions and when they’re bad. Very respectful.” Then Limbaugh simply laughed, as he often did throughout the broadcast.

Coming back from a commercial break, Limbaugh summed up what he’d seen as, “Just what the doctor ordered. This is Donald Trump going over the head of the media right to the American people, advancing his domestic agenda and being totally transparent with these people. They don’t know how to get on the same stage that he’s on. The American people are gonna eat this up when they see it.”

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At the end of another break, Limbaugh quipped, “We continue now with the Trump press conference, over an hour, and Trump’s still standing, still triumphing over these little spitballs that are being thrown his way.”

Part of the questioning by Acosta included an extended back and forth in which the increasingly frustrated reporter complained he wasn’t getting a chance to ask enough questions.

In turn, the president complained, “I watch CNN. It’s so much anger and hatred, and just the hatred. I don’t watch it anymore.”

However, the president was largely playful throughout the give and take, at one point saying, “It’s OK, Jim. You’ll have your chance. But I watch others, too. You’re not the only one, so don’t feel badly.”

Limbaugh again responded by just laughing. A moment later, he caustically observed, “They are not asking him a single thing about anything he spoke of in the first half hour.”

Trump went on to give a very long answer to another Acosta question, the gist of which was a scorching of the mainstream media for largely burying the story of Hillary Clinton’s email hacks, saying, “When I heard some of those things, I picked up the papers the next morning, I said, ‘Oh, this is gonna be front page.’ It wasn’t even in the papers. Again, if I had that happen to me, it would be the biggest story in the history of publishing or the head[lines] of newspapers.”

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Limbaugh suggested that reporters were not used to being called out in such a manner, remarking, “I’ve never seen this before; this is great. I’ve never seen this before.”

Acosta then went after the president for calling the mainstream media’s news fake.

Trump replied that the public could tell the difference between real and fake news as well as he could, adding, “I’ll tell you what else I see: I see tone. You know the word ‘tone.’ The tone is such hatred.”

A delighted Limbaugh merely exclaimed, “Yes! Yes!”

When the president continued, “I’m really not a bad person, by the way. No, but the tone is such … I do get good ratings, you have to admit that,” Limbaugh again burst out in laughter.

Limbaugh wasn’t so lighthearted when Trump described how he believed the media twisted reports of what was supposed to be a private conversation with the president of Mexico.

“They lied about it,” he succinctly summed up.

Limbaugh was equally succinct in summing up the essence of the source of tension in the long back and forth between CNN’s Acosta and Trump.

“The hatred coming from other people on your network,” said the president. “Now, I will say this. I watch it, I see it, I’m amazed by it, and I just think you’d be a lot better off. I honestly do. The public gets it, you know. Look, when I go to rallies, they turn around, they start screaming at CNN. They want to throw their placards at CNN. You know. I think you would do much better by being …”

“Honest,” interjected Limbaugh, completing the thought for the president.

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