Accuracy in Media

Few media outlets dedicate as much energy to attacking President Trump as Slate, but the liberal website owned by the Washington Post had some good things to say about the president on Tuesday.

“Good Riddance, John Bolton,” read the headline on Fred Kaplan’s piece. “Trump makes a smart decision, for once,” read the subhead.

“Once in a while, even President Donald Trump makes a wise decision, and firing Bolton as his national security adviser – which he did Tuesday, tweeting, “I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the administration” – ranks as one of the best.”

The firing came 18 months after Kaplan had written a column on Bolton’s hiring in which he led with “It’s time to push the panic button.”

Kaplan’s point – shared by others in the mainstream media – is that Bolton was the force behind Trump pulling the U.S. out of the Iran accords, the Paris climate accords and the INF treaty with Russia. But Trump promised before he became president he would pull the U.S. out of both the Iran and Paris deals.

“It turns out that – though he loves a big military parade, a skyrocketing defense budget and batting out belligerent tweets – Trump isn’t so keen to go to war (which isn’t to say he knows how to keep from stumbling into one),” Kaplan wrote.

“John Bolton left because Trump wouldn’t let him start a war,” declared the headline on Vox’s story by Alex Ward. “There was always going to be a conflict between Trump’s ‘America First’ and Bolton’s ‘America Everywhere,’” read the subhead.

Ward wrote that Bolton had some successes, including convincing Trump to withdraw the U.S. from the Iran deal even though it was, again, a campaign promise. But he said the firing means “Trump is in control of the most important aspect of his foreign policy” whether or not to go to war.”

CNN took the snark route in “Why John Bolton had to leave and what to expect next,” by Stephen Collinson.

“John Bolton had to go – because he wanted to cancel President Donald Trump’s worldwide reality show,” Collinson wrote in his lead. “For a time the now ex-national security adviser who first caught Trump’s eye with his tough talk on Fox News, was useful to the president – sharing his desire to shake up the globe.

“But like everyone else in Trump’s dysfunctional foreign policy team, Bolton wore out his welcome, standing in the way of his boss’ impetuous instincts and seeking a share of the spotlight.”

Collinson then asserted that “Only in the bizarre Trump orbit could the exit of a national security adviser seen as an ideologue and aggressive hawk be seen in some ways as the removal of a stabilizing force. But he did have a view of American interests and the use of U.S. power that while hardline was predictable and logical and positioned within the historic boundaries of U.S. diplomacy.”

This could help Trump “indulge his more dovish instincts,” but it will “reflect its principal author even more closely. It will be more impulsive, less strategic and more geared to creating iconic moments, like the president’s stroll into North Korea with Kim Jong Un.”

The Washington Post focused on the palace intrigue in “Something is fishy about Trump’s John Bolton announcement” by Aaron Blake.

Did Trump fire Bolton? Or did Bolton resign before he was fired? And why, if he was fired, did the White House announce he would appear at a news conference with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin in the early afternoon?

“Adding to the intrigue is Bolton’s comments. His tweets Monday night and Tuesday didn’t indicate anything had changed, and shortly after Trump’s tweets, he chimed in by saying, ‘I offered to resign last night and President Trump said, ‘Let’s talk about it tomorrow,’” Blake wrote.

He then implied Bolton tweeted remembrances of 9/11 perhaps not simply to commemorate the attacks on their 18th anniversary, but also “to suggest discord with Trump over the president’s aborted plans to meet with the Taliban at Camp David.”

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