President Trump’s warning that North Korean threats would be met with “fire and fury like the world has never seen” this week triggered paroxysms of nuclear war anxiety among many in the mainstream media.
Instead of sober analyses of the military situation with North Korea, we got “OMG TRUMP IS GOING TO BLOW UP THE WORLD” hysteria. While we wait for the networks to commence 24-hour marathons of The Day After, here are a few of the more absurd reactions:
The New Yorker, crabby that Trump cut into their vacation time by making significant statements on pressing issues instead of spending his summer biking in Martha’s Vineyard like Barack Obama, quoted possibly the dumbest response in the world, from Democrat strategist Paul Begala: “Look on the bright side: compared to the coming thermonuclear inferno, global warming will seem quite pleasant.”
More importantly, in a convoluted narrative that strives mightily to avoid admitting Trump might be justified in speaking as he did, the New Yorker mentions a fact that eluded many of the hysterics: North Korea’s much-ballyhooed threat to launch a missile attack on Guam was not a response to Trump’s comments. It was boilerplate threatening language from the Kim regime, prompted (to the degree Pyongyang needs any prompting) by American B-1B bomber overflights – the kind of overflights that happened all the time under debonair internationalist peacemaker Barack Obama.
New York magazine worried about Trump “stumbling into nuclear war,” followed by a few hundred words explaining that Kim Jong-un really is a paranoid maniac who might not be deterred by the Cold War model of deterrence. It is funny how all the snide dismissal of Trump starts fading away once people start researching North Korea’s rhetoric and behavior.
Newsbusters caught the news networks treating Trump as more dangerous than Kim, including Matt Lauer and Andrea Mitchell predictably misreporting the North Korean threat against Guam as a “chilling response to thunderous words from President Trump,” to use the latter’s words.
“The real fear is that the rhetoric is escalating from both sides,” Mitchell intoned. No, ma’am, the real fear is that your man Bill Clinton set North Korea up to get nuclear missiles, and now they have them.
A related fear is the assumption that America must be humble before mighty North Korea, which can toss around as many threats as it wants, while top U.S. officials must choose their words very carefully. Not coincidentally, that’s the same way the left thinks that’s also how we must handle radical Islam.
MSNBC anchor Nicolle Wallace declared incorrectly that Trump’s language “contradicts all the traditions of American military history” and warned Trump is “the kind of guy who would be sort of shamed into sort of keeping up with his own word.” That would be a change from the previous president, who made all sorts of bold statements with elegantly nuanced threatening language but never felt obliged to keep his word about anything.
Unlike Nicolle Wallace, other network commentators remembered Harry Truman telling Imperial Japan it could expect “a rain of ruin, the likes of which has never been seen on this Earth” if they didn’t throw in the towel after Hiroshima. In fact, they became quite obsessed with Truman’s speech, forcing harried leftists to consult their Democrat Party ideology handbooks and figure out if they’re supposed to admire Truman or not.
Major Garrett of CBS News amusingly described Truman’s speech as “Cold War imagery of fire and fury,” to introduce a report in which CBS quoted a few Democrats and the Chinese Communist government blasting Trump. Oddly, lefties obsessed with Cold War imagery seem to have completely forgotten what JFK said during the Cuban Missile Crisis. One can only wonder what the Democrat ideology handbook says about him these days.
Later they trotted out Hillary Clinton staffer Jake Sullivan to declare, “It just doesn’t help when our allies and the countries in the region can’t tell whether it’s Donald Trump or Kim Jong-un who’s the crazier one.” Hint for Jake and the other slow kids in the classroom: it’s the guy who blew his uncle to pieces with an anti-aircraft gun and used a weapon of mass destruction to assassinate his half-brother in a crowded airport.
It seems like every network either used a staffer, or ordered some talking-head takeout, to make the point that Trump is just like Kim. Matthew Dowd from ABC skipped over to MSNBC to moan that it is hard to believe “people in Europe aren’t looking at this situation today, and who are they more worried about? That’s actually an honest question in this time that we have.”
Serial fantasist Brian Williams, who by some dark miracle is still employed by a purported “news” organization, frankly declared that “our job tonight actually is to scare people to death on this subject.” Just what America needs at this perilous hour: artificially induced panic from people who used to hallucinate about riding in attack helicopters!
CBS News cranked a story out of “social media engagement” on Trump’s “fire and fury” remark, searching for deeper meaning in the way more people retweeted posts on the subject than “liked” them. USA Today followed suit with a heap of search-engine metrics. The media really needs to decide whether Twitter and Facebook are clinical instruments for measuring national opinion, or murky cesspools of nitwittery infested with cyber-bullies and Russian mind-control robots.
When State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert chided reporters for being “obsessed” with Trump’s remarks, one of them shot back:
We’re not obsessing about this. This is the president of the United States threatening a nuclear armed country, whether you want to accept it or not, a country that is armed with nuclear weapons with ‘fire and fury the likes of which the world has never seen.’ I don’t think that it’s obsessing to want to know what the, you know, to have a further clarification of exactly what that means and whether or not it means that you’re preparing to send fire and fury raining down on the North Korean regime.
It is too bad there was no such hunger for clarification when President Obama drew his “red line” against chemical weapons in Syria, or what he was planning to do in Libya. The world’s bad actors have drawn some very scary lessons from Trump’s predecessors about the importance of having nuclear weapons, and soon they will be able to buy what they need from cash-hungry North Korea, with affordable shipping provided by companies China pretends it doesn’t know about.
All of these networks are fixated on President Trump’s poor polling numbers – “this genuine overseas threat comes at a low point in terms of public trust in this president,” Williams intoned – which is music to Pyongyang’s ears. Instead of worrying about Trump’s words provoking North Korea, maybe these media clowns and Democrat opportunists should think about how their message of a neutered White House and America paralyzed by partisan divisions might induce Kim Jong-un to think he can get away with a few homicidal gambles. What could possibly be more “provocative” than the media’s message that America is having a seizure?
One other thing to keep in mind: while the media worries about crazy Trump cooking off the Alpha-Omega Bomb to prove his alpha-male credentials if Pyongyang keeps mouthing off, the real message that needs to be sent is that North Korea will not be allowed to get away with nuclear blackmail. This is not about shutting down psychotic editorials in Rodong Sinmun. It is about letting Kim know he will not be able to shake down the civilized world with missile threats, or conduct military adventures beneath the safety of his nuclear umbrella.
Sending Kim the message that America’s political and media elite collapses in puddle of sweat at the sound of words like “fire and fury” will make him more likely to think he can get away with provocations, possibly including some hideously dangerous test launch of a live nuclear missile to prove he has them. Declaring our willingness to be intimidated guarantees intimidation. Signaling that we’re ready to fold ensures the ante will be raised. Even crazy leaders make calculations. Feeding garbage data into Pyongyang’s equations raises the likelihood that dangerous garbage will come out.