Trump Derangement Syndrome Down Under

Most of the US media loathes President Donald Trump, never expecting him to be elected, and after he surprised everyone, they did everything in their power to discredit his presidency, turn public opinion against him, and drive him from office, either through impeachment or resignation.

Thus far their efforts have failed, but not for lack of trying. US media coverage of Trump is 92 percent negative. I’m surprised that number isn’t larger as I don’t recall seeing any remotely positive recent Trump stories.

The foreign press isn’t much better. Most major cities in Europe and elsewhere follow the lead of the New York Times or Washington Post. Even in the far reaches of the Southern Hemisphere, thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean from America, Trump Derangement Syndrome is flourishing in the local media.

I speak of New Zealand, a small country in the South Pacific, about the size of Colorado, in area and population, with breathtakingly beautiful scenery, wonderful people, and delicious coffee. On a recent trip down under, I watched how their media portrayed President Trump.

Borrowing characters from the Lord of the Rings, filmed in New Zealand, was Trump a clever but harmless hobbit? Or was he a brain-dead nasty orc? Or was he the dark wizard Sauron, the epicenter of evil and malice in Middle Earth?

A few weeks spent perusing the New Zealand Herald, the country’s main newspaper, gave me the answer. Positive stories about Trump were as elusive as the now extinct Moa bird, once flourishing in New Zealand before the country was colonized by those nasty humans. And centuries before global warming became a fad.

My conclusion was that Trump was indeed Sauron, the dark lord of America and the source of all evil in the world. Let’s look at a sampling from the New Zealand Herald, their paper of record. If not for the stories about rugby, I could be reading the New York Times or Washington Post. Or the UK Guardian.

Shortly after the midterm elections, Trump visited Paris. The NZ Herald described the visit as “Five days of fury: Inside Trump's bad Paris temper, election woes and staff upheaval.” That was the trip where Trump had to explain that nationalism, or putting the interests of one’s country first, didn’t mean resurrecting the Third Reich. Trump was simply doing something the left loves, “speaking truth to power”, not having a temper tantrum.

Another headline was beneath even the NY Times level of animus toward Trump, “Commander in crap: Donald Trump toilet brush making bathrooms great again.” The article described a toilet cleaning brush in detail, “The ever-popular brush features a fitting of Trump's face, his blue suit and red tie, and a rather bushy version of his fantastic blonde hair.” I don’t recall any articles about toilet brushes featuring the heads of Barack or Michelle.

Aside from Trump being a rube, he is apparently not long for the presidency, despite his near 50 percent approval halfway through his first term.  The left always pokes fun at conspiracy theories on the right, but the NZ Herald signed on to their own such theory, “Speculation mounts of a daring plan to take down Donald Trump.” What daring plan you ask?

Actually, it’s not speculation as the Obama deep state holdovers have been trying to take down Trump since he announced his candidacy. It’s also ironic that the Five Eyes spy network, of whose eyes New Zealand owns one, may have spied on Trump, attempting to undermine his candidacy and presidency.

Trump is also a serial liar, according the NZ Herald, unlike those before him who were unscrupulously honest about such things as Obamacare, Benghazi, and Iranian nukes. They ran this headline, “It's easy to fact check Trump's lies. He tells the same ones all the time.” How original. They sound like Don Lemon or Jim Acosta.

And we can’t forget impeachment. Here’s a story making the case, “Has Trump crossed a legal line? 'Abuse of power' could trigger impeachment.” This is news? We have been hearing the same story for the past two years.

New Zealand takes immigration seriously, to their credit, far more so than the US. But that doesn’t prevent a dig at Trump trying to safeguard his own country. “How Trump planted a seed about terrorism and the migrant caravan” was a recent headline. Perhaps because there were criminals and potential terrorists in the caravan?

I’m sure residents of New Zealand would not be pleased if say 10,000 young men from Pakistan or Syria showed up on their shores, soon bringing their siblings and relatives, as they are doing in much of Europe.

First Lady Melania Trump isn’t exempt from derision. After news that she recommended that a White House staffer be fired, the NZ Herald described the incident as, "extraordinary", "stunning" and even "dangerous", “with news outlets noting how rare the outburst was for the notoriously quiet First Lady.” They seemed to have forgotten Hillary Clinton’s far more nefarious activities as First Lady, including throwing a lamp at her husband.

The paper doesn’t like former model Melania’s fashion sense either writing, “Melania Trump's $13,000 Dior 'turkey coat' mocked at Thanksgiving.” I wonder how many of Michelle Obama’s fashion faux pas were similarly reported?

Ivanka Trump didn’t get a pass, as the newspaper tried to create a false equivalency between White House advisor Ivanka’s use of private email and the former Secretary of State’s use of an unsecure email server in her home used to traffic classified government documents, many of which ended up on Anthony Weiner’s laptop, all in violation of the law. Here is how they described Ivanka, “The stunning rise and spectacular fall of Ivanka Trump.”

Compare Trump’s coverage to how those in the last US administration are treated, years out of office.

Barack Obama, the quintessential statesman in the eyes of the NZ Herald, receives this headline, “Barack Obama slams Donald Trump, warns of dangerous times.” Note how Trump is associated with dangerous times. Not mentioned is who is making the times dangerous by trying to overthrow a duly elected president.

While Melania is mocked for her clothes, Michelle Obama is praised, with this headline, “Michelle Obama dons leather corset for Elle magazine interview with Oprah.” Imagine the exploding heads at the newspaper if Melania wore a corset to an interview.

And we can’t forget slow Joe Biden. No stories about how he inappropriately touches women and young girls, but instead his new best friend, a rescue dog. “Former Vice President Joe Biden adopts rescue dog” was a recent headline.

Newspapers are free to advocate for political causes rather than objectively report the news, but on the editorial pages, not the front page. Otherwise it turns journalism into a political campaign, diminishing its credibility and relevance. What’s interesting is that this isn’t just a US phenomenon. Those thinking they can leave America to escape the inexorable leftward slide toward socialism should think again. Meet the new country, same as the old country.

Photo credit: author

Brian C Joondeph, MD, MPS, a Denver based physician and writer. Follow him on Facebook,  LinkedIn and Twitter.

If you experience technical problems, please write to