The Down-Under View of Donald Trump
New Zealand is one of those exotic countries on everyone's bucket list of places to visit. It has friendly people, beautiful scenery, and a mystique made famous through Peter Jackson's movies – The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. The Kiwis are the best in the world in sailing and rugby. Some might say "so what," since these sports aren't football or baseball, but for a country similar in size to Colorado in population and area, that is a remarkable sporting achievement.
My family and I have had the privilege to live here for several years, and I still travel back a few times a year to work and teach, as I am doing at the time of this writing. I enjoy talking politics with friends, colleagues, and patients, especially since I, as an American, am a slave of that crazy Trump guy. It's fascinating to hear what people think of President Trump in a country far away from America, yet with many commonalities, including the Five Eyes intelligence alliance that may have participated in surveillance of Donald Trump, his campaign, and even his presidency
Listening to the banter of customers and baristas in the run-up to the North Korea summit, while waiting for a "flat white," I heard several times how the Trump-Kim summit meant that it may be the last coffee anyone gets before the two madmen blow up the world. The science fiction drama On the Beach was invoked as a preview of the coming nuclear holocaust led by madman Trump. I presume that the conversation was similar in the U.S. at a Starbucks in Manhattan or Berkeley.
The headlines in the local newspaper are often revealing. The New Zealand Herald is their national daily newspaper. What did big media say in the other land down under? Here are some recent articles.
The editorial page told readers, "Trump needs a win more than Kim does." Really? North Korea has a smaller GDP than Vermont and has Mad Dog Mattis and the might of the U.S. military ready to annihilate the country if necessary. Trump walked away once and could have easily walked away again.
The N.Z. Herald still doesn't understand Trump, just as the N.Y. Times and Washington Post don't: "[a]s usual with bully talk, it is trying to conceal a weakness." It's not weakness, but style versus substance. If Trump were as weak as the newspaper suggests, why would Kim be so eager to play "art of the deal" with the big kahuna deal-maker rather than playing rope-a-dope as his father did with a succession of past U.S. presidents?
After the G-7 summit, the Herald ran this article: "Trudeau's photo reveals Trump could be obese" based on a photo of Trump next to Trudeau and their comparative heights and Trump's weight. Important news, I guess. I'll bet they never ran an article pondering whether Hillary Clinton might be obese.
On the eve of the Singapore summit, there was this editorial headline: "The egos have landed in Singapore." I doubt they ever characterized a meeting with Obama and a foreign leader in this manner. The editorial describes Trump's efforts to make North Korea to give up its nukes, "[e]ssentially because Trump wants them all for himself." Really? Nine countries have nukes, with only rogue North Korea threatening to use them. Hardly an American monopoly.
Melania Trump was not left out of the mix with this headline: "Melania Trump makes first public appearance in 25 days at White House event." Joining CNN and MSNBC in bewilderment as to Mrs. Trump's need for recuperation after kidney surgery, I'm sure they were nowhere nearly as concerned with Hillary Clinton's falls, coughing, and absences from the presidential campaign trail.
The Herald also signed on with the conspiracy theories with this: "New Melania conspiracy theory: Did Donald Trump write her latest tweet?" If I didn't know better, I'd think Don Lemon wrote for the N.Z. Herald between his CNN shows.
Then there was this about Melania and Donald: "Melania Trump refuses to hold her husband's hand." And Trump's letter to Kim, calling off the summit, was picked apart by some grammar teacher, yet it had the desired effect of getting the summit back on track: "President Trump's letter to Kim Jong Un brutally mocked." Grammar aside, Kim understood the letter quite clearly and within hours jumped to make it known that he was on board.
Last among many recent headlines: "Can Trump's efforts at foreign breakthroughs erase damage at home?" What damage is that? Record low unemployment, an exploding economy, or sky-high consumer and business confidence? The only damage I see is to Democrats and NeverTrumps losing their voices and minds, barking at the Moon.
How was Hillary Clinton covered on her recent visit to New Zealand? Nary a negative word in this headline: "Jacinda Ardern and Hillary Clinton meet in Auckland." The article then gushed, "It appears the pair have hit it off."
Or Barack Obama, revered in New Zealand as a god, with this newspaper headline: "Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick: Barack Obama dinner 'profound and deep.'" In other words, Obama is profound, while Trump is just weak and obese.
The television news is not at all different, with a drumbeat of negative stories. It seems that the U.S. media is not the only group of biased journalists.
Is this unique to New Zealand? Hardly. Read any major newspaper in Europe or Australia and see stories of the same type that Americans see on a daily basis from our major papers. The media are a gigantic left-wing weed, with an interconnected root system all over the world, sprouting up in major cities. It's all part of the same plant, from journalism school to their interactions with each other, an echo chamber where they all see the world similarly through their Marxist-tinted sunglasses.
Fortunately, many people no longer rely on big media for their news, finding alternate sources and analysis. But in the major cities of the world, the media all read from the same playbook – even far away across the Pacific, in the "land of the long white cloud."
Brian C Joondeph, M.D., MPS is a Denver-based physician and writer. Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Image credit: Anton Croos of the Art of Photography via Wikimedia Commons.