While we were waiting for the joint press conference between Trump and Macron, I found myself among the leading French press. As President Trump was a not-fashionable one whole hour late, the French press corps was surprised that the White House was not running on time. Quelle Surprise!
The most frustrated were the TV journalists whose news desks were supposed to be running special live editions from the East Room. One of the French presenters received multiple calls from his network, wanting to know what was going on in Washington and why he wasn’t able to deliver the scheduled live hit from the East Room. President Trump affects the news cycle, whether we are here in America or across the Atlantic.
While the American President went out of his way to impress the Macrons, French journalists insist that they are not fans of Trump.
“We do not like Trump, but we have to deal with him”, one of the leading French journalists told me. “That’s the position of Macron too”, he added. “Macron does not like Trump, but he knows that he has to deal with him.”
Our conversation quickly developed with two other journalists from Paris jumping in to share their views. “Ms. Pavlovic”, one of them addressed me, “the French have accepted that Trump is the president of America. He is sitting in the most powerful office and as long as he is there, we will have to communicate with him.”
“But the German and British, they did not accept Trump, want nothing to do with him and they want him out of the office”, the other journalist stated.
“Why this difference?”, I’ve asked. “That’s because Trump was extremely rude and critical of Merkel, while he never said anything against Macron. And if you look closely, Macron never said anything against Trump. He criticizes his policies, but he never made any statement against him.”
With that, they all started taking selfies in the East Room, apologizing to me for doing a “touristy thing” but at the same time offering an explanation that they are only taking pictures as this is their first time in the White House.
As Macron and Trump stepped out on the podium to give their prepared speeches, it immediately became apparent to me that the special relationship Marcon is trying to portrait while cameras all rolling live do not correspond to the sentiment of the French nation. They all know it’s a game. Does President Trump know it?