Media in the US and around the world are keen to paint the threat of nuclear war emanating from North Korea as a threat which arises from two identical personalities, President Trump and Kim Jong Un. Indeed the personality of Trump is deemed more of a threat to world peace than a rogue dictator.

As an impartial observer in another Western country, I am bemused by the misuse of the power wielded by the fourth estate in the US. The Washington Post led with a headline designed to tell the reader that Trump was excitable and  volatile when he made his ‘fire and fury’ threat against North Korea, while his staff were the opposite. They were ‘calm’ and therefore considered and normal in their response. The headline reads ‘Trump’s threat to North Korea contrasts with calm reassurances of other administration officials’. The intent of the headline is to cast Trump as unhinged, while his staff are normal human beings, and much more even-handed and even-tempered.

Their headline also tells us that the main news is not that North Korea has threatened to lob nuclear bombs onto mainland America, and therefore the threat of killing millions of American civilians, but that the US has an unhinged president. However, this attempt to redefine the actual news story is easily exposed for what it is, and I am sure that many see through the thinly veiled deceit inherent in the Washington Post hit piece.

There is no evidence of President Trump being anything but calm when he made the threat:

The Post describes Trump’s statement as ‘bellicose’. The primary meaning of this term is belligerent, aggressive or combative. While it also means warlike, the term is usually used to describe someone who is emotionally unstable and volatile. Even though the Post describes the ‘statement’ made by the President as bellicose, the inference is clearly that only a belligerent, aggressive, warlike or unstable person would make such a threat. This of course is absurd. If any leader failed to warn an enemy who threatened the nation harm in the strongest possible terms, he should be charged with dereliction of duty.

The response of the staff is not calm and measured in response to Trump’s ‘bellicose’ statements, but they concur with his statements:

The facts do not fit the Washington Post narrative. They quote Mrs Sanders who says that Trump’s words were his own, meaning according to the Post (wink wink) that she is distancing herself from his words. Unless there is an agreed convention that a President must get his wording from others before he opens his mouth on a subject of national importance, it would be absurd to suggest that Sanders was displaying calm unlike her boss. The post has to admit that she also added ‘The tone and strength of the message were discussed beforehand’. This means that the strength of the message and its tone was agreed upon, therefore either making the staff as ‘bellicose’ as Trump or making Trump as calm as his staff.

 The Post also falsely claimed that there was evident dissonance between the views of the staff and aids.

They put it like this: ‘U.S. allies and a number of Trump aides and lawmakers instead saw a disturbing dissonance, and lack of coordination’, even though none of Trump’s aids are shown to see a ‘disturbing dissonance’. Of course you are always going to have people interpreting statements in a variety of ways. No doubt the same would have been said of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain at the rise of the Nazis had Chamberlain given an equally stern warning to the Germans, instead of claiming ‘peace in our time’ in 1938.

Both Bush Junior and Obama made threats and yet were not vilified as Trump has been.

 The Post uses weak innuendo to reinterpret the statements of the Trump cabinet.

Tillerson and Mattis in fact both backed their boss. Tillerson said that the rhetoric of the North Koreans should not disturb the sleep of Americans, and that Trump had used the only language that North Korea would understand. Tillerson was making the point that war was not imminent, and that Trump’s statements did not mean it was. Similarly Mattis made it perfectly clear that any time the North Koreans would initiate a war, they would be destroyed by the superior power of the US. Of course the Post tries to ridicule the statements of Gorka, which the Post states supported the President’s remarks, while Tillerson and Mattis did not. Having discussed the response of Tillerson and Mattis, the Post writer states ‘Not everyone inside the administration was taken aback by Trump’s remarks.’ They have assumed that their sleight of hand will confuse the reader into thinking only Gorka is on the same page as the President, and not Mattis and Tillerson.

The Post also adds that the New Zealand and Australian prime ministers were at odds with Trump:

‘In New Zealand, Prime Minister Bill English called Trump’s comments “not helpful” in a standoff that was already “very tense.” Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull warned that responding to North Korea’s threats with “fire and fury” would have “catastrophic consequences” worldwide.’

Turnbull, however, is not criticising Trump, but explaining the outcome of a war with North Korea. The New Zealand Prime Minister, a weak and ineffective leader, leads a secular and liberal, atheist government and is himself embroiled in controversy at the moment in a scandal involving sending hundreds of texts to a young woman at all hours of the day and night concerning a secret audio taping of the woman by another cabinet minister who has since resigned. English may not survive as Prime Minister in the current elections underway and  is no doubt appealing to the hard left for more electoral support. English is influenced by the liberal sentiments and innuendo produced by papers like the Washington Post and the New York Times. It would be fair to say that most politicians in New Zealand and virtually the entire media landscape are more Huffington Post than Matt Drudge.

A constant analysis of the media is needed in the US, and of the dishonest and fraudulent reporting that seeks to change the news and make it an attack upon a democratically elected leader, rather than accurately assess the danger of a rogue dictatorship to the rest of world and the US.

Dr. Garnet Milne.