Trump time: Fake news, real leaks & a surreal show!…’Washington Diary’ by Arun Kumar
Donald Trump had been forced to fire his top security adviser. One of his cabinet picks had withdrawn due to opposition from within his own Republican Party. Judges in four states had halted his controversial travel ban from seven nations.
And on top of it the media had gone to town with stories of chaos at his new digs — the White House — with the Wall Street Journal claiming that his spies and spooks were withholding sensitive intelligence from the President lest it be leaked or compromised.
“Chaos! Yet, it is the exact opposite. This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine,” thundered an angry president as he came out to “whip” the media for pedalling “fake news” based on “real leaks” by previous Obama administration “people.”
The New York Post called it the “Wildest Show on Earth” that sent TV ratings rocketing sky high. Rival tabloid New York Daily News dubbed it “The Wrath of Don.”
The Los Angeles Times labelled the 77-minute performance a “Rowdy Rebuttal” and “Express.” A Washington Post publication headlined its story, “I’m not ranting and raving” in a slight variation of his prediction.
A pundit on CNN, now upgraded to “very fake news” called the president “unhinged” and an opinion piece writer at the “failing New York Times” wondered, “Is It Time to Call Trump Mentally Ill?”
Even as Trump pilloried the Journal and the Times for its as “disgraceful” story about his campaign aides having repeated contacts with Russian intelligence, he sought to slip in a bit of his own fake news.
His was “the biggest Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan,” Trump claimed. Not true by a long chalk as all but one of the four presidents that followed Reagan had much larger margins of victory.
When challenged, he first claimed that “I was given that information” before adding without batting an eyelid, “But it was a very substantial victory. Do you agree with that?”
It was a typical Trump ploy to provide a distraction from the firing of his National Security Adviser Mike Flynn for talking about sanctions with the Russian ambassador during transition in violation of an obscure 1799 law.
“The whole Russian thing — that’s a ruse. That’s a ruse,” said Trump asserting that Flynn was simply “doing his job.” And alll the stories about his campaign’s contacts with “Russia is fake news.”
“If leaks are real, then how can the stories be fake?” asked a reporter. And how come he now wanted to plug the leaks when he loved WikiLeaks revealing information about Hillary Clinton’s campaign?
“Well, the reporting is fake,” Trump asserted pointing out that WikiLeaks was not giving out classified information. It was only “giving stuff” about “Hillary cheating on the debates,” he said before launching a tirade against his vanquished rival.
Outside the White House and across the country immigrants shuttered their shops as Trump mulled a brand new travel ban tailored to the “bad judgement” against the first and immigration agents rounded up hundreds of illegal aliens.
The Trump tirade distracted some attention from his “significant accomplishments in less than a month” – from rebooting two oil and gas pipelines to easing rules of business — as the Time magazine reluctantly acknowledged
But it also avoided scrutiny of his other controversial moves. Upending decades of US policy on Israel-Palestinian conflict, he told the Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu that he “could live with” either a one state or a two state solution “that both parties want.”
And in line with another campaign promise, his defence secretary Jim Mattis told 27 NATO defence ministers to start increasing defence spending by year’s end or the Trump administration will “moderate its commitment to them.”
Meanwhile, as his diehard supporters stayed true to him amid the turmoil, Trump could not help taking another dig at the media with his favourite instrument of torture: a tweet.
“The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!” he posted.
Impressed by his “epic rant” a Twitter storm suggested that Trump should fire his press secretary Sean Spicer and appoint himself in his place. “Mental hospitals will be full,” tweeted one – hopefully before Obamacare is scrapped!