Thursday, May 24, 2018

Methinks North Korea Was Always Just A Distraction Trump Used To Get The Media Off Important Stories

[Quick synopsis:  I'm proposing that Trump never intended to meet with Kim Jong Un.  He always knew he couldn't get Kim to give up his nuclear weapons.  The whole point was to have something bright and shiny with which to distract the media from covering other issues.  The time spent by NPR this morning on this summit that isn't going to happen makes it clear that Trump succeeded.]

NPR spent a lot of time this morning talking about North Korea and Trump's cancellation of the summit with Kim Jong Un.   Here's the list of segments they have on the May 24 show listings.  The Korea pieces are at the end.

North Korea Demolishes Its Nuclear Test Site In A 'Huge Explosion" 3:59
Trump Cancels U.S.-North Korea Summit 10:19
North Korea Expert Reacts to Trump's Cancellation of Summit 4:00
There Was A Lot Invested In U.S.-North Korea Summit.  What Happened? 8:40
Mike Pompeo Reads Out Loud Trump's Letter Cancelling U.S.-North Korea Summit 1:10

That comes out to a little over 28 minutes - one fourth of the show, talking about something being cancelled.  My sense is that the 'Korean Expert' covered most of this.  The rest was somewhat informed chatter.

The ten minute segment had several NPR reporters discussing the cancellation.  They really didn't say anything that couldn't have been covered in two minutes.  They didn't really seem to know more than any reasonably educated person knows.  At one point, David Greene says,
"Ayesha, I just looked at the letter, and there seems to be some important - I don't know if we call it caveats. "
Maybe I'm misinterpreting this.  Is he only now reading the letter, several minutes into the discussion?  Maybe this was more 'breaking' than I realized and he just got it.  Maybe that explains why the discussion is so disjointed - he was reading the letter and not paying attention to the conversation.  Or doing both and not really absorbing either well.   And they didn't have a script to keep them focused.

One person talks about how the cancelation was a surprise.  But Trump's been tweeting that he might not have the meeting.  So it wasn't that much of a surprise.  Why was it a surprise?

And as I listened and got increasingly frustrated by the ten minute segment, the lightbulb went off.  Trump doesn't care about North Korea or having them denuclearize.  Sure, getting Kim Jong Un  to get destroy his nuclear toys  and then become a target for US corporations would have enhanced his deal making image.  But only because it would make Trump look good, not because the world would be a safer place. And if it gets more dangerous, that's not Trump's worry.  Even as North Korea experts said it couldn't happen, others, as they did during the campaign, started saying, well, maybe  his unconventional approach will work.

I would say now that his unconventional approach DID WORK.   He got media - even the supposedly more sophisticated' NPR - to spend almost one-quarter of today's Morning Edition time covering something that isn't going to happen.  Instead of spending that time on more substantive news that Trump doesn't want them to cover.

This shouldn't come as a revelation - he's been doing this all his career.  It's the main tool of scammers and magicians:  keep the eyes of the audience away from the real action by distraction.  But it takes a while for people to realize that what was critical to other presidents - evaluation of the success of their policies (as subjective as that might be),  doesn't matter to Trump.  Policy is just one of the shiny toys he can use to distract the media.  Outrageous racist comments are another such toy.

Trump, it would seem, never expected to meet with Kim or to get him to denuclearize.  But it was a dramatic enough story that he could get endless coverage of it and thus take coverage off of the campaign's dealings with Russia, his numerous conflicts of interest, the shady backgrounds of his constantly changing sets of advisors.  You name it and there are plenty of things to cover.

Trump's career has been all about getting attention.  'Good' news for Trump is coverage that makes Trump appear like a business genius and a stud with women.  'Bad' news is only stuff that threatens his power - like the Mueller investigation.  Policy issues, whether the tax bill, DACA, climate change, Iran, or North Korean nukes, are neither good nor bad news (unless they affect his 'brand.')

The policy stuff is just glittery distractions he can use to get the media to watch his left hand while his right hand performs the real tricks.   He's a kid loose in the White House, pushing buttons, raising and lowering levers, poking here and there without any concern for the damage he might do or what costs the world will bear.

Wake up media!   Set your own agenda.  Don't let the President lead you by the nose with distracting hijinks.

1 comment:

  1. I really think a lot of people, or at least progressives that I know, felt this meeting would never happen either. Of course I thought, wow, it would be great if it did and positive actions came from it, but, with Trumps history, I agree with you. It was just to get more attention. After reading Trumps letter to Kim Jong Un, it read like it was written by a 7th grader. I was waiting for an "OMG" to appear in it. As for NPR, I don't know what's up with them. Sadly, becoming a bit more mainstream/middle of the road?


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