Accuracy in Media

President Trump’s tweet warning Iran not to threaten the U.S. again was not done to promote U.S. security but rather to change the subject after his controversial summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a number of mainstream media outlets reported.

Never mind that Trump has taken a harsh line against Iran since he took office and is now preparing another round of sanctions against Iran.

Never mind that he has been telling key staffers, including National Security Adviser John Bolton, for days that he intended to ramp up efforts against Iranian military and terror activity in the Middle East.

Never mind that the tweet – “NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR OU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. BE CAUTIOUS!” – came in response to one from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warning the U.S. not to “play with the lion’s tail,” vowing to fight “the mother of all wars” against the U.S. and threatening to disrupt shipping lanes in the Middle East.

This tweet was about moving the news cycle off of his performance in Helsinki.

“Trump’s tweet followed a familiar pattern: When mired in an especially negative situation, change the subject,” the Washington Post wrote.

“So a week after his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which was heavily criticized by Democratic and Republican leaders, and after waffling over his faith in U.S. intelligence agencies, Trump took to Twitter to issue an all-caps bulletin to Iran.

“’There’s nothing going on here except he wants to change the subject,’ said one Trump adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to offer a candid assessment.’”

NPR took a similar path.

“The timing of Trump’s heated remarks also raised the question of why he decided to issue his tweet late Sunday – after a week of negative attention for his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin last Monday, and the revelation that his former attorney Michael Cohen recorded him in 2016 discussing payments to a woman who claimed she had an affair with Trump.”

It then quoted Mara Liasson from the program Morning Edition.

“Donald Trump likes to direct the media narrative, to control it,” Liasson said. “And he’s gotten us all talking about Iran this morning, instead of talking about Putin, or the investigation into Russian interference.”

This is nothing new, NPR wrote.

“Mara noted that Trump also directed violent language toward North Korea – before meeting with Kim Jong Un in Singapore,” it stated. “’Sometimes he likes to create a crisis and then become the hero of his own story and declare the crisis over,” Liasson said.

“In the case of North Korea, she pointed out, the crisis was declared over despite any nuclear weapons being dismantled.”

In fact, there is fresh evidence North Korea is making steady progress toward honoring its commitment to disarmament.

Chris Cillizza of CNN opened his piece: “First, an admission, I have no idea why President Donald Trump tweeted the following at 11:24 p.m., Eastern Time on Sunday night:”

Two paragraphs later, he takes a shot:

“The likely reasons, as I see them:

  1. Mired in a downward spiral in regard to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, Trump was trying to DRAMATICALLY CHANGE THE SUBJECT.
  2. He saw Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s comments that a war with Iran would be the ‘mother of all wars’ and DECIDED TO SEND A MESSAGE LOUD AND CLEAR.”

Vox had three possible reasons – that Trump thinks he can do to Iran what he did to North Korea and use blustery tweets to bring leaders to negotiations; that it’s part of a longer-term plan to pressure Iran’s government and signal to its citizens our support and, of course, to distract from Russia.

Vox called this the “worst foreign policy week of Trump’s presidency” and said the administration “failed to convincingly walk back Trump’s comments and curb the tide of criticism.”

“But if he gets people to focus on Iran – especially GOP members of Congress – then maybe he can make everyone forget about his really bad Russia week.”

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