As press fulminate, Trump gets their goat again
As he has with all sorts of world leaders, President Trump met with a high-ranking delegation of Russian diplomats and then posed for some glad-handing photos with the officials during and after the event. It should be worth noting that despite Russia's strategic importance, Trump has met fewer times with these officials than with those of virtually any other nation.
The glad-handing went on, and all of a sudden, so did the leaks from purported White House officials, proclaiming fury at the photo ops from the event coming out from the official Russian news agency, TASS. Some headlines:
White House furious after being trolled with Russia Oval Office photos
Kremlin outfoxes White House over photos of Trump meeting with Russians
White House official says Russia ‘tricked us’ by publishing Oval Office photos
Presence of Russian photographer in Oval Office raises alarms
Turns out that Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov did what he always does: traveled with an official Russian state photographer from the official state news agency TASS, who documented the travels for his audience back home and was pretty appalled at the response that followed for doing his job. The U.S. let in a similarly situated official White House photographer, but no photos emerged. The mainstream press were left to cool their heels outside – and got angry.
The New York Times, for one, whined about favoritism. CNN reported that it had unnamed sources saying the White House was furious, claiming that the Russians tricked them. USA Today obsessed that it came right after Trump fired political animal FBI director James Comey, hollering that the Russian ambassador was "a spy" and cited his previous conversations with former national security adviser Mike Flynn and former senator Jeff Sessions, now attorney general, almost as if that were proof. Meanwhile, one of the two-man tag-team of harassers of White House top counter-terrorism adviser, Dr. Sebastian Gorka, Colin Kahl, in between tweeting literally fake news items about Gorka, has suddenly decided he's got national security concerns, being serious and all, as a former national security adviser for that paragon of gravitas, former vice president Joe Biden. He tweeted:
Deadly serious Q: Was it a good idea to let a Russian gov photographer & all their equipment into the Oval Office?
His sidekick in Gorka harassment, Obama "mind meld," and former deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes, kept uncharacteristically quiet on Twitter. Rhodes, despite his former high position in the White House, was one of the very few who apparently never did get a security clearance. And he's certainly had no trouble giving long interviews to TASS himself.
What is to be made of this gibberish? First, nothing untoward was coming from the Russian side. The foreign minister always travels with an official photographer – and generally a reporter, too – from state agency TASS, a news agency comparable to Voice of America. I've actually known one – who traveled with Lavrov. Heck, I've known Lavrov himself, from his United Nations days. There is nothing strange here, and to see ignorant clowns like Kahl tweeting their alarm suggests that they are very wet behind the ears on Russian ways or else beating the political drum against Trump.
Our Russian sources tell us that the howling comes not from Trump administration sources, as claimed by USA Today, but from the press itself, still bitter and jealous that they didn't get a chance to photograph the meeting, while the TASS photographer did.
As this utterly predictable coagulation of distorted claims about Russia ties and Russia spies spews from the press, and their assorted players get themselves all wrapped up in the same old conspiracy theories that have enthralled them since Trump's election, President Trump stepped in with a Tweetfest on Twitter:
The Fake Media is working overtime today! he said in one tweet.
Yesterday, on the same day- I had meetings with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the FM of Ukraine, Pavlo Klimkin.
...accompanied by this big, in-your-face smiling photo for all the chickens running around with their heads cut off:
In short, he threw it back at them. He got their goat.