It is becoming clear the mainstream media does not like the way President Trump conducts diplomacy from the words used to describe his statements.
Meeting with other heads of state of NATO countries in Brussels, the president continued with themes he has raised many times in the past – that other countries don’t meet their dues or defense spending commitments to the trans-Atlantic defense alliance and that Germany keeps afloat Russia, the organization’s top adversary, by purchasing energy from it.
The Washington Post opened its main news story by saying Trump had “upended the summit” with his comments. His “ambush” had “jolted the transatlantic alliance.”
Talking Points Memo warned that, even after the president signed a 23-page NATO declaration at the close of the summit, “allies braced for Trump’s impending outbursts on defense spending.”
It told of the “fiery on-camera exchange Wednesday” – in which the president laid out his concerns on Germany’s new energy deal with Russia at what was “intended to serve as a mild introduction to closed-door negotiations.”
“Here’s a video of the awkward exchange (be sure to keep an eye on Chief of Staff John Kelly’s expression).”
Nothing in the video is obviously awkward, and, other than appearing to write on a notepad as the president spoke, Kelly seems to display the expression of someone who has heard the presentation before.
Also, “as predicted Trump could not resist blistering his colleagues for not yet contributing 2 percent of their nation’s gross domestic product to military defense.”
At CNN, we’re told Trump may have exaggerated when he “capped off his tumultuous two-day visit at NATO headquarters on Thursday by boldly declaring that all NATO members agreed to increase their defense spending after he told them he was ‘extremely unhappy.’”
Trump’s “unscheduled” news conference offered his “signature touch for showmanship, but the president came up empty when pressed to detail the new financial commitments he had secured, offering only that member countries ‘agreed to pay more and they agreed to pay it more quickly’ and pointing to spending increases over the last year.”
Trump’s “hard-nosed tactics” caused CNN to reject the president’s claim that “everybody in that room got along.”
His “provocative comments” had “rattled allies” on the summit’s first day. They were “still reeling” from his “diatribe accusing Germany of being a ‘captive of Russia’ and insistence that ‘delinquent’ allies increase defense spending ‘immediately.’”
CNN also accused the president of not understanding what he was talking about. “Presidents have been trying unsuccessfully for years to get Germany and other rich NATO nations to pay more toward their protection from Russia. They pay only a fraction of their cost,” Trump said, once again mischaracterizing a country’s own defense spending as payments to NATO, as he has frequently done.”
Actually, the president is on the mark. NATO members are required to spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense and are supposed to pay dues, and many countries are behind on both.
But was it that “tumultuous?” Was Trump that “hard-nosed?” Was the alliance that “rattled?”
CNN admitted, “NATO allies – even German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom Trump singled out – have so far played nice with Trump,” although that will end soon when Trump goes to London, where he is “expected to face mass protests” that “tens of thousands of people have said they plan to attend.”
The Post said “Trump’s Thursday demands sent ‘everyone into a tailspin,’ according to one diplomat briefed on the morning’s events. Trump came armed with facts and figures, and it appeared to be a well-planned attack.”
According to the Post, as Trump read out the spending figures for every NATO nation, he sometimes was “telling leaders sarcastically: ‘My friend, you’re so nice to me. I’m sorry you’re spending so little.’”
But it quoted NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg as saying “All allies have heard President Trump’s message loud and clear. We understand that this American president is very serious about defense spending, and this is having a clear impact.” Later, it quoted him as saying there were “’differences between allies,’” but that after Thursday, “‘I feel NATO is more united now.’”