At the joint address with the Baltic Heads of states, President Trump launched a new public attack on American press.
The joint press conference at the East Room on Tuesday, April 3, 2018, started on a positive note. After giving a short statement on joint defense efforts between the US and the Baltic states, President Trump gave the floor to his foreign guests: President Raimonds Vejonis of Latvia, President Dalia Grybauskaite of Lithuania, and President Kersti Kaljulaid of Estonia.
Lithuania’s president Dalia Grybauskaite did not shy away from expressing her liking for a “tough president” as she praised Trump’s leadership. At the Cabinet room meeting prior to the joint press conference, President Trump asked Grybauskaite to reveal what she said to him in the Oval Office.
“And did Donald Trump make a difference on NATO? This is a very risky question. If she says the same thing she said in the Oval Office…”, POTUS encouraged Grybauskaite to praise him.
“I can repeat that it is very good pressure to all of us, all members of NATO, it is perfect pressure to all political elite to face that somebody else needs to protect but not themselves, so first you do your homework and then you ask your partners to come with you. And that’s exactly what we did. And that’s the kind of leadership that is good. We are using it also to influence opinions in our countries that first we need to invest ourselves and only then the partners can come with us…” the Lithuanian President jumped at the opportunity to celebrate POTUS.
Back in the East Room, all remarks from the three Baltic leaders were well prepared in advance and all delivered the same message: 2% of the GDP military spending, NATO reform, fight against ISIS, cybercrime and trusted partnership with the US.
After all, who does not want to be an ally of the U.S.?
Then came the question time.
President Trump took the first question from Reuters, an important, but an open-ended question about the US involvement in Syria. “I want our troops out of the Middle East”, Trump said and he continued about the “death and destruction” that America got out of the war.
While it looked like the press conference was going in a good direction until that moment, very soon, and completely unwarranted, President Trump encouraged the Baltic leaders to call exclusively on their journalists instead of the American “fake news”. The president thought that his comment was funny, but bashing the free press in front of the foreign leaders, on the White House grounds, is undermining the trust in the media not only in America but during a multilateral event in the East Room.
The presser was dominated by a handful of the foreign press while the permanent White House Press Corps (foreign and domestic) was sidelined and silenced in an openly hostile act of the American president.
Discrimination of journalists and preferential treatment in order to avoid facing hard questions in the White House is unacceptable and against the values, American press freedoms stand for. Journalists are now forced to interrupt the White House decorum and shout questions that we all know will openly be dodged by the President.
Yesterday, Jim Acosta shouted a question about DACA kids during the Easter Egg Roll, and as a consequence had Brad Parscale, make a public call for his “suspension for breaking protocol”.
— Brad Parscale (@parscale) April 2, 2018
The oppression of the journalists, continue. The GOP is turning a blind eye. Just another day at the White House.