July 6, 2017: Korean War | CNN War | Mainstream Media War
1. Get Ready for War
Is the Right ready for war? At times, in the last few days, it certainly seemed so.
The reaction was fierce in some quarters to North Korea’s launch Tuesday of an intercontinental ballistic missile with a range that experts said could reach Alaska.
While some of us were watching fireworks on the 4th, Infowars, well known for its flights of fancy, wrote:
The US, China and Russia are threatening military action against North Korea, which could include neutron bombs capable of low yield thermonuclear payloads designed to maximize lethal radiation in the immediate area of the blast while minimizing the physical damage.
The extreme Right website Americas Freedom Fighters also warned:
War is coming. President Trump has made this very clear and North Korea does not appear to be heeding his warning. All bets will be off once the missiles start flying.
And on Twitter, David Hookstead @dhookstead got 3.3K loves and 2.9K retweets for what he presented as a scoop:
BREAKING: The United States military is preparing for a "show of force" tonight against North Korea, according to multiple reports.
The U.S. responded to the launch by conducting a rare joint missile exercise with South Korea and pushing to impose tougher United Nations sanctions against the North. UN Ambassador Nikki Haley chided Moscow and Beijing for opposing the sanctions and a Security Council resolution condemning North Korea. She also said Pyongyang was “quickly closing off the possibility of a diplomatic solution” and suggested the United States would continue to consider military action, if necessary.
Hot Air wrote:
If Moscow and Beijing want to avoid a war, they’d better do something a little more positive to eliminate the threat than just tell us to stand down and trust the lunatic who keeps pushing the boundaries in Pyongyang.
Yesterday, even the neo-cons at Commentary seemed to hint that military action may be the only way forward. In Never-Trumper John Podhoretz’s podcast, Noah Rothman, the magazine’s associate editor, presented his theory of the “rational dictator.” Kim Jong-un, he argued, is not one. Thinking he is one leads to mistaken strategy:
“The theory goes that the Kim dynasty has few objectives beyond its own survival, therefore you can get away with a lot that we think we can’t get away with… you can deter it, you can surround it with weapons and contain it… you can set up limited strike on the regime without expecting cataclysmic response that would result in Korean War II. You can probably pressure this regime in some ways that we’ve been reluctant to do…”
Podhoretz, Rothman and another guest, Abe Greenwald, a Commentary senior editor, all did favor diplomacy and did not rule out the possibility of massive conventional death, injury, and destruction if the U.S. pulled the trigger. But they were also critical of the U.S. strategy in the last 30 years. Rothman even went so far as to acknowledge that “what the Trump administration is doing is promising… not just the can-kicking anymore. There’s a paradigm shift. We’re talking about an existential threat and treating it as one.”
What We’re Watching:
It is notable that Podhoretz’s podcast was titled “What Do You Care More About? North Korea or CNN?” Indeed, we observed that the Right’s coverage of North Korea was much lighter than its coverage of the president’s tweet of a video depicting him body-slamming a CNN figure at a wrestling match, as well as other alleged “fake news” from the mainstream media. As Podhoretz remarked, after criticizing the White House’s competence on foreign policy, “We have a president who is more concerned about CNN than he is about North Korea.”
Also of Note:
On the 4th, the Left bashed Nikki Haley for her ill-timed tweet about having to spend the holiday in meetings about North Korea. But her supporters on the Right came to her defense and criticized the Left for its “meltdown.” For example, wrote Cindy Tindell @CindyTindell, elected Committee woman for Palm Beach County:
Humorless libs are taking this Nikki Haley July 4 tweet WAY too seriously http://dlvr.it/PSSmGJ
Defying all odds, the Trump-CNN brawl is a story that keeps getting bigger.
It all began on Sunday, of course, when the President posted his now notorious wrestling GIF tweet. Many on the left and in the Mainstream Media responded with horror that Trump would seemingly advocate violence. Right-wing outlets ridiculed the unmodulated response to the cartoonish video, singling out CNN’s, which was among the most outraged. Rush Limbaugh carried the common conservative critique that the MSM was humorless:
Did the CNN logo bleed? Did it get a concussion? Did the CNN logo complain and whine and shriek and scream in pain and terror? No. And yet “violence” was perpetrated against the CNN logo! Violence was perpetrated against the logo on a fake (laughing) sporting event! They cannot laugh at themselves. They’ll never be able to. They take themselves way too seriously, folks. I cannot describe to you how much and how serious it is. It’s an affliction. It is a dangerous ego affliction to take oneself as seriously as most of your modern-day members of the media do — and in some cases, both sides of the aisle. But particularly on the left.
Greg Gutfeld, co-host of Fox News’ “The Five,” joined in the dogpile by calling CNN’s senior media correspondent, Brian Stelter, a “tattletale” and “hairless hall monitor.” Gutfeld added that people who can’t laugh at something like this are just “humorless libs” who “ignore real incitement.”
“You know what I did when I first saw the tweet? I laughed,” Gutfeld said. “I showed to to my brother-in-law, who laughed. He showed it to his wife, she laughed. Then we had breakfast, because that’s what normal people do.”
The story might have faded but then CNN went out and found the Reddit user who bragged that he had made the video in the first place. It didn’t publish his name, the network said, because the guy apologized and pledged to take down some of the other ugly racist and anti-Semitic stuff he had posted and promised not to do it again. However, and this is a big "however," CNN said it would “reserve” the right to expose the man if he broke their agreement. (CNN later clarified this to say, “All we intended to make clear is that there was no agreement about revealing or not revealing his identity.”)
The right didn’t see all this as a measured response but as a threat and went on the attack. Even the president’s son joined in the Twitter hatefest #CNNblackmail. Donald Jr. wrote: “If only @CNN spent as much time tracking down info on IRS targeting, Fast & Furious, Iran deal etc as they did a meme writer! #CNNBlackmail.”
The overwhelming success of this strategy -- to move public conversation away from the president and his dubious relationship with racist and anti-Semitic followers -- seemed to surprise even members of the Right. The Daily Caller wrote:
CNN has accomplished the Houdini-esque feat of turning itself into the villain after President Trump tweeted a gif of himself body-slamming the CNN logo and punching it. This should demonstrate once again that Trump isn’t ruining CNN – CNN is so obsessed with Trump that it’s busily ruining whatever is left of its credibility.
There was, at least, some reflection in the conservative media about whether the Trump attack might be bad for the presidency and even press rights in general. In a column in Hot Air, the columnist Ben Shapiro suggested that “being presidential matters.” (That this even needed to be stated showed how far we've come -- or sunk.)
But National Review took the cynical angle, saying that all sides in this war were benefiting:
So here we are: a media nobody trusts schoolmarming a president who’s simply the class clown. Nobody looks good in this particular fake wrestling match; the question is why anyone engages in it at all. After all, we know that the match isn’t real. Trump so adores the media attention that if CNN and the New York Times were to stop covering him, he’d quickly set himself on fire outside their offices. Likewise, if Trump were to stop tweeting, CNN would have to go back to covering missing Malaysian airliners. It’s a romance made in hell, but the ratings sure are stellar.
What We’re Watching:
So who is winning the battle for the trust of the American people? A new poll found that once again we break down by partisan lines. A poll by Survey Monkey found that 89 percent of Republicans view President Trump as more trustworthy than CNN, and 91 percent of Democrats think the opposite. Noted Axios: “Among all adults, trust for CNN is 7 points ahead of Trump. Among independents, CNN wins by 15 points.”
Most thought-provoking fact: 33 percent of Republicans get all of their news from Fox.
Also of Note:
Yesterday, Project Veritas, a conservative-funded investigative group that targets liberal groups with undercover video operations, leaked another heavily edited segment that painted CNN poorly. This one featured the CNN producer Jimmy Carr calling the average voter “stupid as shit.”
3. War Against the Media: You Thought It Couldn’t Get Worse?
While the Trump vs. CNN melee took the main stage, it was not the only media battle in town. In fact, we noticed this week that the Right is ratcheting up attacks on the nation’s most prestigious news outlets. Of course, the war between the MSM and the conservative press began long ago, escalating during Trump’s candidacy. But this week a new level of pugnaciousness was reached in the wake of Trump’s post on CNN (and attack on Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski).
At around 6 p.m. last night, four of the top six stories on The Daily Caller website and the top four on Breitbart were all tilted against the mainstream media. Six of the top seven pieces on the Fox News site involved CNN alone. It was a full immersion campaign. Some of the stories were about errors and some were just critical, but they were all about delegitimizing the established press.
For example, The New York Times was widely castigated for attributing a tweet to the North Korean government that actually came from a satirical account that mocks Pyongyang. This is from The Daily Caller:
The New York Times fell into a trap that has claimed a number of reporters writing on North Korea, the inclusion of reports from the DPRK News Service into articles. Writing on North Korea’s new ICBM, NYT attributed a tweet to the North Korean government….
Over the years, a number of news outlets, including Newsweek, Fox News, Buzzfeed, and others have mistaken the parody account as a form of North Korean state media, like the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
USA Today, one of the most circulated newspapers in the U.S., citedthe DPRK News Service in an attack on President Donald Trump’s selection of Rick Perry for secretary of energy in December. The article claimed that the pick “drew scorn from the nation of North Korea,” but the citation was the parody Twitter account mocking the rhetoric of the North Korean government.
Meanwhile, The Federalist crowed about catching CNN in publishing a fake Lincoln quote and also attacked a Los Angeles Times columnist for disputing its allegations that Obamacare had resulted in seniors being thrown off Medicare in Ohio.
4. In Praise of Poland
All eyes were on Trump as he headed to Poland for the G20 Summit. The Daily Mail reported that thousands were bused in by the government for his speech today in Warsaw’s Krasinski Square. It wrote: “Lawmakers in the formerly communist nation see in Trump a mirror of their own brand of nationalism that has seen many Poles bristle against an iron-fisted European Union centered on Germany.”
On the Right, early twitter reactions were positive about Trump’s speech, which urged the West to defend itself against "radical Islamic terrorism."
Jack Posobiec @JackPosobiec:
Thousands cheering for President Trump in Poland
Kevin W. @kwilli1046
Poland Greets @POTUS openly. 1000 X better then our Liberal Democrat Friends who openly oppose him.
Josh Caplan @joshdcaplan
Also Worth Noting:
Yesterday, in his Fox Halftime Report newsletter, Chris Stirewalt suggested that Trump’s embrace of Eastern Europe was in line with doctrines of the Bush era. Wrote Stirewalt:
One of the reasons Republicans have traditionally liked this approach is because it creates a bulwark against Russian aggression. Remember that the fond dream of Presidents Ronald Reagan and both of the Bushes was to see the former Soviet satellites fall into a happy orbit around Washington rather than Moscow.
Trump’s embrace of Polish nationalism may be something of a swat at the European Union, but it can be no welcome news to Vladimir Putin.
5. Queen of TMZ: #1 Deplorable Lindsay Lohan
Last week, we noted that the gossip sites TMZ and The National Enquirer were some of Trump’s biggest supporters. Well, it seems that Trump has another vocal defender -- the former gossip fixture Lindsay Lohan herself. Just when we thought things couldn’t get more surreal, the former “Mean Girls” star tweeted an image of Trump offering to help a sick infant in the UK and wrote:
“THIS IS our president. Stop #bullying him & start trusting him. Thank you personally for supporting #THEUSA.”
She then followed up her tweet with:
Trump supporters were quick to welcome Lohan to the family with open arms:
So much respect for @LindsayLohan. Even when America turned on her, she still loves and shows so much respect for and our president.