The Washington Post keeps coming up with ways to broadcast anti-Trump screeds in a form that misleadingly suggests its reporting the news honestly. We’ve become familiar with variations of the following locution: “This report is based on interviews with 38 individuals with knowledge of the situation, including senior White House officials.” It allows the Post to pick and choose among the people it talked to and report pretty much whatever it likes — even if most of these people, including all the ones at the White House with first-hand knowledge, said something different.
Now, the Post is attacking Trump in headlines attributing the attack to “critics.” Today, for example, the lead headline on the front page (paper edition) blared “Trump’s absence rankles critics” (a reference to Trump missing a ceremony in France honoring the World War I dead, due to bad weather). The Post has also used this approach to headline writing accuse Trump of racism, among other things.
Critics said lots of unpleasant things about President Obama. I don’t think the Post ever wrote headlines that parroted these attacks and then attributed them to critics. “Obama too anxious to cut deal with Iran, critics say” was never a Post headline, I’m pretty sure.
The great thing about the Post’s new approach to headline writing is that “critics” will say almost anything about Trump. In today’s story about France, the “critics” are Ben Rhodes and David Frum. Rhodes is a partisan operative. Trump is reversing key national security policies he helped Obama implement. Of course, he’s a Trump critic.
Frum, if anything, is even more an more vituperative and indiscriminate critic of Trump than Rhodes. Regarding the ceremony in France, Frum tweeted:
It’s incredible that a president would travel to France for this significant anniversary — and then remain in his hotel room watching TV rather than pay in person his respects to the Americans who gave their lives in France for the victory gained 100 years ago tomorrow.
Frum didn’t get his facts right. Trump wasn’t in a hotel; he was staying at the U.S. ambassador’s residence. Rhodes made the same mistake.
In addition, it’s not “incredible” that Trump missed the ceremony. As Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs reported:
Weather canceled the trip. The presidential helicopter can’t fly in poor conditions. And Belleau Wood is about 55 miles from downtown Paris; driving there would have been logistically challenging for the large presidential motorcade.
Reporters can check with Secret Service sources on security reasons one of Trump’s 2 visits to U.S. graves was canceled, but world will still go nuts calling it international embarrassment.
So will “critics.”
The Post quotes Rhodes saying: “There is always a rain option.” Apparently, there was one here, too — a motorcade. But if Jacobs’ reporting is correct, it too was ruled out for logistical reasons under the circumstances.
I doubt that Trump ruled it out. He’s not an expert on Paris traffic patterns.
In any event, the Post seems to have made no effort to consider the practicality of other options (although two of the Post’s reporters on the story in question, David Nakamura and Seung Min Kim, complained bitterly about traffic in Paris and environs, with Nakamuara saying it took him 90 minutes for the 16 mile drive from the airport to the city). It simply relied on a “critic,” who happens to be Trump’s bitter enemy — a critic who has no idea whether a motorcade was a practical option under the circumstances.
But that’s the great thing about serving as a mouthpiece for Trump’s critics. The Post can peddle any anti-Trump theme it wishes.
And if that doesn’t yield enough Trump-bashing stories, the Post can always run the same one twice in one edition.