WASHINGTON • He called a news conference ostensibly to answer questions about his fund-raising for charities that benefit military veterans. But Mr Donald Trump instead spent most of his time on live television berating the journalists covering his presidential campaign in unusually vitriolic and personal terms.
"You're a sleaze," he told a reporter for ABC.
"You're a real beauty," he told a reporter for CNN, snidely denigrating the man's competence.
For 40 minutes on Tuesday, Mr Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, assailed reporters with a level of venom rarely seen at all, let alone in public, from the standard-bearer of a major US political party. And he warned that a Trump White House would feature more of the same.
The issue had come to light through simple fact-checking. In January, fuming at Fox News, he skipped the final Republican debate before the Iowa caucuses because that network was hosting it. He held a competing event, a televised fund-raiser that he said would benefit military veterans, and announced that he had raised more than US$6 million (S$8.3 million), including US$1 million he was donating himself.
UNHAPPY WITH COVERAGE
You make me look very bad.
MR DONALD TRUMP, berating reporters and news media on the negative coverage he alleges they have been giving him.
But The Washington Post reported a week ago that Mr Trump had yet to make his own donation.
In Tuesday's news conference, Mr Trump read aloud a list of charitable groups and the exact amounts he said each had received, interrupting himself frequently to issue broadsides at individual journalists, the news media in general, or political reporters as an exceptionally odious class.
"Unbelievably dishonest", he called them. To show that he had finally made his own million-dollar donation, Mr Trump produced a photocopy of a cheque.
"The press should be ashamed of themselves," Mr Trump said. Veterans are "calling me, and they are furious", he said, adding, "You make me look very bad."
The president of the National Press Club, Mr Thomas Burr, issued a statement suggesting that Mr Trump "misunderstands - or, more likely, simply opposes - the role a free press plays in a democratic society." The pro-Clinton group Correct the Record said the performance raised new questions about Mr Trump's temperament.
And more ammunition for his opponents has emerged in claims Mr Trump's business seminar programme created a class to teach students how to cash in on US mortgage foreclosures during the housing crisis.
Trump University promised in 2009 that its Fast Track To Foreclosure Investing class would teach students how to take advantage of the crisis, according to university documents in a lawsuit against the now-defunct programme.
NEW YORK TIMES, REUTERS