TOWOIT #338: Attacking the U.S. press on foreign soil

June 13, 2018.

The G7 and Singapore stuff has been so stupid and painful and full of moronic pageantry that I admit my brain just shut down a little over this last week. I’m meeting with Washington State Democrats tonight, i’m thinking about the midterms, I’m listening to political podcasts about the midterms and how to get out the vote. I haven’t abdicated my responsibility or my existential dread. I just can’t watch the towers go down in slow motion day after day.

This morning I flipped back through the news page on Whitehouse.gov to see if I had missed a press gaggle — I thought surely in all these days of flying around, there would have been a press gaggle. I had seen Sarah Huckabee Sanders looking dour and complicit on the edges of various Trumpian photographs from recent international events — but no, nothing. Nary a gaggle. Nothing on the docket yet for today either, but it’s early.

Trump himself gave press conferences in Quebec and Singapore, where he attacked the U.S. press. This falls in the zone of what I’ve been avoiding exposing myself to too much of. If I get up the gumption later, I’ll watch so I can identify which reporter asked which question in the transcript. In the meantime, here are the questions from the June 9 transcript:

  • Mr. President, did you raise bringing Russia back into the G7 during your meetings? And when have you last spoken to Vladimir Putin? Do you expect to meet him in Vienna this summer?
  • Mr. President, you said that this was a positive meeting, but from the outside, it seemed quite contentious. Did you get any indication from your interlocutors that they were going to make any concessions to you? And I believe that you raised the idea of a tariff-free G7. Is that —
  • How did it go down?
  • Thank you, Mr. President. Another question on trade. You just said that you think that the tariffs are actually going to come down, but it does appear that these various countries are moving forward with retaliatory tariffs on the U.S. Did you get any concessions or any agreements with any of these countries not to move forward with those tariffs? And are you willing to not move forward with —
  • Are you close to a deal on NAFTA? Your Press Secretary said (inaudible) (snort)
  • And does it have to have a sunset clause in it?
  • Like five years or —
  • Mr. President, David Herszenhorn with Politico Europe. Just to come back to Russia for a second. Something that happened that got them kicked out of the G8 was the invasion and annexation of Crimea. Do you think that Crimea should be recognized as Russian (inaudible)?
  • But you would allow Russia back into the G8 with Crimea still (inaudible)?
  • How persuasive did you find the Europeans and Canadians when they made the case to you that you shouldn’t use national security as a justification for tariffs?
  • How do you make that case for autos?
  • As you were heading into these G7 talks, there was a sense that America’s closest allies were frustrated with you and angry with you, and that you were angry with them and that you were leaving here early to go meet for more friendlier talks with Kim Jong Un in Singapore. And I’m wondering if you — (He interrupts to say that’s all “well put” )
  • — if you view it the same way. And do you view the U.S. alliance system shifting under your presidency, away — (the President interrupts again to ask who the reporter is with and they say “CNN.” He says, “Figured. Fake News CNN. The worst.” Then he says his relationship with Angela and Justin is a perfect 10, it’s great, and then he says “So you can tell that to your fake friends at CNN” — this is why I really don’t want to watch this thing and see and hear this motherfucker)
  • Thanks, Mr. President. Eliana Johnson with Politico. Going into these talks with Kim Jong Un, do you have a clear objective of what you want to get out of them?
  • Is there a particular outcome that you would look for from this initial talk to judge whether you think things are going well?
  • How long do you think that it will take you to figure out whether he’s serious about (inaudible)? (denuclearization?) (He says he’ll know in the first minute)
  • How? (He says, by touch, by feel, it’s what he does) 
  • Are you concerned about all that just like giving Kim the meeting, that he’s getting a win as a (inaudible)? (Jesus, with the inaudibles!)
  • Have you spoken to Kim at all in the last —
  • A follow-up on North Korea. Will you raise of the gulags with Kim Jong Un and —
  • — and the (inaudible) and kidnappings?
  • Mr. President, we’re sitting here, and kind of you’ve attacked the U.S. press back home, but you’ve also done it on foreign soil. I guess I want — I’d like to ask you why you do that. Do you think — (this is where he claims to have invented the term “fake news.” We’re totally fucked.)

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