Trump can taint any occasion.
The return of three hostages from North Korea couldn’t stop Trump from engaging in two of his favorite pastimes: lying and bashing the press.
At 3 o’clock Thursday morning, Trump traveled to Joint Base Andrews to greet the three Americans who were released from detention in North Korea Wednesday. During a photo op with Kim Dong Chul, Tony Kim, and Kim Hak Song, Trump fielded a few questions, and lashed out at the New York Times.
“I think our secretary of state, despite the fact that the New York Times said he was missing — he was in North Korea — but I think our secretary of state has done a fantastic job” Trump said. “Mike, did you know that you were missing? They couldn’t find you. They couldn’t find him. They couldn’t find him because he was in North Korea.”
Trump also used the photo op to indulge another favorite pastime: bragging about television ratings.
Trump made a similar attack on the Times Wednesday evening on Twitter, writing, “The Failing New York Times criticized Secretary of State Pompeo for being AWOL (missing), when in fact he was flying to North Korea. Fake News, so bad!”
But, as is often the case, it was Trump who was spreading fake news, or lies. The very second paragraph of the article that Trump cites notes “when Mr. Trump made what could be the most significant diplomatic announcement of his presidency — that he would exit the Iran nuclear agreement — his chief diplomat was again thousands of miles away, this time on an unannounced visit to Pyongyang, the North’s capital.”
The words “missing” and “AWOL” do not appear anywhere in the article, but did appear in a Fox News article attacking the Times on Wednesday.
Trump recently achieved the milestone of telling his 3,000th lie in office, according to the Washington Post Fact Checker, and also just threatened to bar reporters from the White House for negative coverage, which he calls “fake news.”
This performance is yet another reminder that with Trump, the lying never stops, and neither do his attacks on our most important institutions.