While representing the United States at the Pyeongchang Winter Games on behalf of her father, Ivanka Trump described NBC News correspondent Peter Alexander’s question on sexual misconduct allegations against President Trump as “inappropriate.”
Rather than focus on substance or the Games themselves, Alexander used the interview to ask about her father’s sex life.
For other official State visits, journalists previously would adhere to a general rule of courtesy that when the President or his official emissary is overseas, the nature of foreign policy allows for the decorum of looking beyond partisan fights.
Charles O. Jones, a longtime political scholar with the University of Virginia, gives the historical context in his book, The American Presidency: A Very Short Introduction.
“The role of chief-of-state is multi-dimensional. In this role, the president must stand above partisan politics as an institutional figure, one representing the whole nation …. In traveling outside the country, the president is viewed by foreign citizens as representing the United States, uncomplicated by the complexities of the separation of powers back home. Similarly, presidential communications at international conferences are interpreted as reflecting American views.”
Journalists enjoy First Amendment privileges to ask whatever questions they wish, but the obtuseness of Alexander’s question further illustrates why conservatives have felt maligned, ignored and marginalized by the mainstream press for decades.
And the mainstream media largely refused to call out former President Barack Obama when overseas in Ethiopia as he broke partisan decorum and verbally assaulted the 2016 Republican primary lineup.