Congratulations to President Trump for figuring out that ambiguity about the basic idea of the NATO alliance was not the way to preserve the NATO alliance.
NATO relies at the most fundamental level on the ability of all of the member states to know that all of the others will come to their aid if they are attacked and for all non-NATO members to understand that an attack on one will be treated as an attack on all.
(So far, the only nation to “collect” on that guarantee was the United States, when NATO closed ranks in response to the Sept. 11 attacks.) Until yesterday, Trump had refused to do what every post-World War II president had done, to affirm that the United States would stand behind its commitment to mutual defense among NATO members. Yesterday, on his European tour, he said the magic words.
In a day of small-medium-and-large moments in Poland and Germany, the Washington Post seemed to question the propriety of Trump calling, at a press conference in Poland yesterday, on a reporter, David Martosko of the Daily Mail, who had recently been under consideration to become Trump’s press secretary. One infers that that the WaPo viewed it as an obnoxious act of favoritism, more evidence of the transactional, reward-your-friends, screw-your-neighbors, attitude of the current incumbent.
I’m neither shocked nor horrified that he recognized Martosko for a question. And wouldn’t it be almost as wrong for Trump to not call on someone for that reason as to call on them?
But the answer our president gave to Martosko. Omigod. Maybe I’ve got to get past the point where I can be horrified by the way Trump views everything as a business deal and a corrupt business deal at that, but it’s not easy.
Here’s the exchange, as reported in the Washington Post:
I have to ask about this,” Martosko said, after starting on the subject of North Korean nuclear deterrence. “Since you started the whole wrestling thing, what are your thoughts about what has happened since then? I mean CNN went after you and has threatened to expose the identity of a person they said was responsible for it. I’d like your thoughts on that.
It’s a dumb, poorly constructed question. In case you don’t get the reference, it’s about the gif that Trump tweeted showing him as a wrestling bully attacking a figure with the CNN logo on its head. But it was Trump’s answer that sent me to the moon:
Yeah, I think what CNN did was unfortunate for them. … As you know, now they have some pretty serious problems. They have been fake news for a long time. They’ve been covering me in a very, uh, very dishonest way.
“Do you have that also, by the way, Mr. President?” Trump said, in an aside to Polish President Andrzej Duda, who was standing next to him and who did not respond. Then Trump continued:
But CNN and others — and others; I mean NBC is equally as bad, despite the fact that I made them a fortune with ‘The Apprentice.’ But they forgot that.
But I will say that CNN has really taken it too seriously, and I think they’ve hurt themselves very badly, very, very badly. And what we want to see in the United States is honest, beautiful, free — but honest — press. We want to see fair press. I think it’s a very important thing. We don’t want fake news.
And by the way, not everybody is fake news. But we don’t want fake news. Bad thing. Very bad for our country.
OK, maybe this is just typical Trump. And it’s way, way obnoxioso. But the part that really got me was to suggest, just in passing as if this is the way everybody thinks, that the news division of NBC, the journalists, might be obligated to give him more sympathetic coverage than they have done, because he formerly starred in a (can I say pretty stupid) show, “The Apprentice,” because the show made NBC “a fortune.”
Skipping past the fact that the show made Trump a fortune also, how much deeper can you sink into runaway transactionalism, measured in dollars, than for the president of the United States to not only think, but publicly assert, that the news division of one of the three major broadcast networks owes him favorable coverage on that basis.
What are we gonna do with this guy?