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Yoichi Shimada

【#625(Special)】Mainstream U.S. Media Adding Fuel to “Cold Civil War”

Yoichi Shimada / 2019.10.09 (Wed)

October 7, 2019


Popular U.S. talk radio host Rush Limbaugh has described the present U.S. political situation as a “cold civil war.” The description indicates that camps that support and oppose President Donald Trump are escalating their zero-sum game struggle with no constructive debate being made.

The conservative talk radio host might have positioned the pro-Trump camp as the United States in the Cold War Era, the opposition Democrats as the Soviet Union, and the mainstream media supporting the Democrats as Pravda, the official organ of the Soviet Communist Party.

U.S. reporters paying no attention to North Korean crisis

Though having no intention to get involved in partisan debate, I would like to complain about the attitude of White House press corps members from mainstream U.S. media. Their mission should be to make appropriate questions on key matters at press conferences or stakeout interviews with the president and get the president’s ideas or policy directions. However, present White House press corps members are generally busy with finding fault with President Trump to damage him. Some of them may be always considering how to highlight themselves vying squarely with Trump. They do not reveal even the slightest bit of consciousness and pride to collect information at the center of the leader country of the free world and communicate such information to the world.

Symbolic were questions raised at President Trump’s joint press conference with the Finnish president at the White House on October 2, on the day North Korea test-fired a medium-range submarine-launched ballistic missile. Even given that President Trump has not minded North Korea’s short-range missile firing tests (the attitude itself is problematic), the October 2 test clearly crossed a red line. I paid close attention to the press conference, expecting reporters to make sharp questions asking the president to make some comments on the North Korean action. However, they made only very minor questions about the unfounded Ukraine scandal. I felt appalled and frustrated and wanted to insult them. Didn’t they find that they look trivialized?

Impeachment efforts wasting time

Such media attitude has encouraged House Democrats to attempt to impeach President Trump. A two-thirds majority is required in the Senate to impeach the president. Most of Republican senators, though frustrated by Trump’s unnecessary words and actions, believe that the president is not guilty of any crime subject to impeachment. As Trump’s approval ratings among Republicans exceed 90%, impeachment cannot be achieved in a foreseeable future. Low-level political struggle would end up wasting massive time. This would be inconvenient and even dangerous for U.S. allies and friends as well.

Excluding the Sankei Shimbun newspaper and some others, mainstream Japanese media tend to accept and report simplified versions of mainstream U.S. media’s distortions. Whether in Japan or the U.S., no essential or constructive policy information can be expected to come out from mainstream media. As the Ukraine scandal has indicated that telephone conversation between top leaders could be leaked, they cannot discuss real intentions over the phone. To get aware of President Trump’s real positions on key issues, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would have to increase opportunities for his direct meeting with the U.S. leader.

Yoichi Shimada is a Planning Committee member and a senior fellow at the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals and a professor at Fukui Prefectural University. He follows U.S. politics and foreign policy.