Get ready to see a lot of this video today, but it might not be the “own” that CNN’s panel thinks. A camera managed to pick up an indiscreet conversation between Emmanuel Macron, Justin Trudeau, Boris Johnson, and apparently Princess Anne as well, in which Trudeau and Macron gripe about Donald Trump. CNN’s Kaitlyn Collins tells the panel that she’s awaiting Trump reaction at being the object of laughter by American allies after his repeated criticisms of Barack Obama for making the US a laughingstock.
Apparently, everyone at CNN fails to recognize the irony of their approach to this story:
WATCH: World leaders at the NATO summit in London were caught on camera appearing to joke about US President Donald Trump during a reception at Buckingham Palace https://t.co/PtzJqoVi0A pic.twitter.com/imCIyzJxzA
— CNN (@CNN) December 4, 2019
The Associated Press offers a little more measured take on the clip, calling it “gossiping” rather than laughter:
In footage recorded during a reception at Buckingham Palace Tuesday evening, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was seen standing in a huddle with French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Britain’s Princess Anne, daughter of Queen Elizabeth II.
After Johnson asked Macron, “is that why you were late?” Trudeau could be heard saying “he was late because he takes a 40-minute press conference off the top.” That appeared to be a reference to Trump’s long and unscheduled question-and-answer session with journalists earlier Tuesday.
Trudeau also said: “You just watched his team’s jaws drop to the floor.”
Trump wasn’t mentioned by name during the exchange.
The irony here is that CNN is apparently delighting in this gossip, which is based on Trump’s making himself available to the press. The griping and what little laughter is actually in this clip — more like a couple of smirks — is about how Trump made himself available for impromptu press conferences that ran as long as forty minutes. If this was any other president, perhaps even any other Republican president, this CNN panel would be hailing him/her as a model of accountability and openness and chiding Trudeau especially for his bad manners.
That’s not to say that Trump does these impromptu pressers out of the goodness of his heart. Of course it’s self-promotion, at least in significant part, because that is Trump’s true calling, but it’s also because Trump knows he can drive the coverage and at least have some impact on the narratives that emerge. That’s one major reason why he shut down the daily briefings at the White House, which had become vehicles for media grandstanding rather than any meaningful way of getting the administration’s messaging out effectively. When Trump talks, he’s in control, and so he has decided to rely on his own talents almost exclusively.
As for Trudeau’s claim that Trump’s team had its “jaws drop to the floor” because of the pressers, that seems fanciful at best. Trump’s team has been around him long enough to know what he’s doing and why. These are hardly the first open-ended impromptu pressers Trump has given, after all. This gossip speaks more loudly about Trudeau than it does about Trump, and CNN’s delight in their distaste of Trump’s accessibility to the media says more about the media, too. Or at least CNN.
Collins says that she will keep pressing the White House for Trump’s reaction to this clip. My guess is that Trump will be delighted to know that he’s the topic of conversation at the NATO summit.
Update: Looks like Trump isn’t as amused as I’d imagined:
JUST IN: Asked about video of NATO leaders caught on camera speaking candidly, President Trump says PM Trudeau "is two-faced," but adds "honestly, he's a nice guy." https://t.co/p8P5VAVOB8 pic.twitter.com/pbaDJpD0mC
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) December 4, 2019
Trump’s first public reaction showed he was unhappy with that video surfacing, responding to a reporter’s question by calling Trudeau “two-faced.”
“He’s two-faced,” Trump said, adding “honestly with Trudeau he’s a nice guy.”
Trump continued: “The truth is I called him out on the fact that he’s not paying 2% and I guess he’s not very happy about it,” Trump said adding “he should be paying 2% and that Canada “has money.”
“I can imagine he’s not that happy but that’s the way it is.”
CNN is also happy to inform everyone that the next presser’s a no-go:
After video surfaced that appeared to show the French, Canadian and British leaders mocking his long q&a sessions yesterday, Trump says his scheduled press conference is off and he’ll go directly to Washington after his meetings instead.
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) December 4, 2019
Trump’s also famously thin-skinned, and it appears that this instinct won out. But note that Trump laid all of this out in yet another semi-impromptu presser too, a photo spray with Germany’s Angela Merkel.
Update: Allahpundit’s e-mail response to Trump’s allegation of two-facedness on Trudeau’s part: “One face is white, the other black.” I still haven’t stopped laughing.