Accuracy in Media

This ‘Rocket Man’ business is driving the mainstream media nuts.

President Trump has been calling Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, Rocket Man because of Kim’s habit of shooting rockets into the Sea of Japan to demonstrate he is closing in on having the technology to reach the U.S. mainland with a nuclear missile.

Trump did so again on Tuesday in his speech to the U.N. General Assembly, saying he would “totally destroy” North Korea if it persisted, and that “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and his regime.”

Conservatives hailed it as a blunt and clear warning – “sometimes the only thing two-bit despots understand,” Washington Examiner columnist Becket Adams wrote.

“A lot of Trump tweets strung together,” tweeted Jim Acosta. “Saber rattling.” An ABC News correspondent said Trump’s threat “borders on the threat of committing a war crime.”

“In Maniacal U.N. Soliloquy, Trump threatens annihilation,” wrote Vanity Fair. “Who’s the madman, Kim or Trump?” the Baltimore Sun asked.

But moving to the lead on the Race to Incoherence was Paul Waldman, writing for the Washington Post. Under a piece entitled, “Trump just made it harder to get North Korea to give up nukes,” Waldman tries to get us to think like Kim.

“Imagine you’re Kim Jong Un. You just watched on television as President Trump went to the United Nations and gave a speech in which he demanded that you give up the weapons program that you have worked to make a source of intense national pride. He also threatened to kill you and all 25 million of your citizens, and even called you ‘Rocket Man,’ and although you actually kind of like that nickname – you love your rockets after all – you know that he’s trying to belittle you. Are you going to say, ‘I think I can work with this man; perhaps we can arrive at a deal that will be good for my country?’”

The left’s faith in the negotiating table to solve all the world’s problems is touching. But it also is terribly misguided, never more so than as it relates to North Korea. Waldman holds a candle for the day when North Korea and the United States rise from a table of mutually agreed shape and size, smile broadly and shake vigorously on a deal that rids the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons and the world of war and sorrow permanently.

“It’s critical to keep in mind that we aren’t just trying to deter North Korea from attacking us or an ally such as Japan,” Waldman wrote. “Our goal is to get them to agree to give up their weapons. It’s not just a matter of them not using them. We’re asking for something much harder for them to give.” 

He then makes the point Trump calling the Iran deal “an embarrassment to the United States” also hurt with Kim because “The United States is demanding that you give your nuclear weapons, presumably as part of some kind of negotiated settlement that would include something you’d receive in exchange” – and pulling out of the Iran deal would send a bad signal.

Trump is not looking for a grand bargain with North Korea. Past presidents did, but they got nowhere, as Kim and his father and grandfather continued to build for the moment when they could threaten the U.S. with nuclear weapons.

Trump is looking to make clear to Kim that an attack on the U.S. or its allies is suicidal. That’s more important than staking out negotiating positions for talks that will never happen.

Gail Collins of the New York Times fell for the same argument. “I believe I am not alone in feeling that the best plan for dealing with a deranged dictator holding nuclear weapons is not threatening to blow him up.” This makes no sense, of course. Kim, of all people, understands the power nuclear weapons hold.

She also took issue with U.N. representative Nikki Haley saying the speech was a diplomatic victory, because “every other international community” has now started calling Kim ‘Rocket Man.’ She pointed to Trump’s use of other nicknames during the campaign – Little Marco, Lying Ted, Crooked Hillary.

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