There will be 3,000 journalists from 40 nations covering the second meeting between President Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong-un — and all 3,000 of them are vying for a chance to produce the proverbial blockbuster story amid unprecedented security and lots of competition.
The press has not gone berserk. Well, not yet anyway. But brace for saturation coverage, creative speculation, much skepticism and the predictable squawks of indignation from journalists who don’t favor Mr. Trump.
In the meantime, a selection of headlines from the past 24 hours offers a glimpse into an event which is subject to interpretation:
“Here comes a wild week for communism” (Axios); “Trump bets it all on his friendship with Kim” (CNN); “Handicapping the Hanoi summit” (The New York Post); “Trump, Kim and the Hanoi summit — at best, a peace mirage” (The Los Angeles Times); “Kim Jong Un’s Vietnam visit follows grandfather’s footsteps: The history between the communist countries” (Fox News); “White House press corps booted from Kim Jong Un’s hotel” (USA Today); “Kim Jong Un and a culture clash with the White House Press Corps” (The Washington Post); “Trump’s Hanoi summit off to a rough start even before his arrival” (Bloomberg News); “One-on-One: Trump, Kim confront North Korea’s nuke plans” (The Associated Press); and “What Russia wants from the Trump-Kim summit” (Quartz).
THE ‘BROMANCE DIPLOMACY’ OF TRUMP AND KIM
Plenty of analysts are focused on President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. It is helpful to remember that the White House set the tone for this event with promising language, advising the press that the president seeks “transformational peace,” and is “committed to achieving a bright and secure future for all people on the Korean Peninsula and across the world.”
Sounds good. Analysts, however, appear to be poised for results.
A lengthy essay in Foreign Affairs by Victor Cha and Katrin Fraser Katz is titled “Trump, Kim and the dangers of Bromance Diplomacy” — which expresses uneasiness with Mr. Trump’s collegial style but makes the point that it is better than the two leaders trading insults.
“Whether his bromance with Kim becomes a liability or an asset will depend on his ability to mount sustained pressure on the nuclear issue while keeping long-term U.S. regional interests in view. A strategy that pairs these aims would allow Trump to continue his joy ride with Kim without losing control of the wheel,” wrote the two analysts.
“I would argue the Trump Administration has rightly come to the conclusion that a quick and speedy North Korea denuclearization is unlikely. At the same time, they also realize a policy of no sanctions relief until full denuclearization occurs is most likely going to end in failure, even perhaps pushing tensions back to the dark days of 2017. And that would be a historic tragedy,” Harry J. Kazianis, director of Korea Studies at the Center for the National Interest, tells Inside the Beltway.
“What Washington is searching for is a diplomatic outcome in Hanoi that shows clear progress on lowering tensions with Pyongyang, making progress on denuclearization and permanently recasting the relationship to something positive. Do this, and we will almost certainly see an ‘end of war’ declaration signed in Hanoi,” continues Mr. Kazianis, who believes the summit could very well be historic.
“Both sides can claim a win and show to the entire world that they are committed to turning the page on past tensions. In terms of denuclearization progress, I would argue Kim will follow through with his pledge to close the Yongbyon nuclear facility for President Trump giving a green light in billions of dollars worth of inter-Korean economic development projects and possibly some sanctions relief. We will also see some movement on more cooperation on Korean War remains, and perhaps even joint U.S.-North Korean teams doing excavation work in the north,” predicts Mr. Kazianis.
THE NEW AND IMPROVED JOE BIDEN
A South Florida Sun Sentinel scribe managed to get a peek at the contract between former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and the Broward Center for Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale, where he made an appearance last week before an audience of 2,000. The conclusion: Mr. Biden is now a “VIP Veep.”
A few pertinent details:
“Biden was represented by the mega-talent Creative Artists Agency, and the contract left little to chance. Biden’s meal was spelled out in the documents: angel hair pomodoro, Caprese salad and raspberry sorbet with biscotti. Dressing rooms for Biden and his staff were to be stocked with bottled water, Coke Zero, regular Coke, orange Gatorade and black coffee. Snacks were mixed nuts and a fruit plate,” noted Anthony Man, a political writer for The Sun Sentinel.
“And Biden’s dressing room was to be labeled ‘VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN.’ The contract shows he got a $150,000 fee for the event,” he adds, noting that Mr. Biden’s questions for the discussion had been submitted two weeks in advance.
Fox News Channel has marked its seventh consecutive week as the most watched network in the entire cable TV universe according to Nielsen Media Research. Episodes of “Hannity,” ” Tucker Carlson Tonight,” “The Five,” “The Ingraham Angle” and “Special Report with Bret Baier” claimed 16 of the top 30 cable telecasts. As it has for 17 years, Fox News continues to best its news rivals, garnering 2.5 million prime time viewers compared to 1.9 million for MSNBC and 958,000 for CNN.
Fox Business Network, meanwhile, has marked its second consecutive month as the leader in business news, with the highest ratings in prime time since the end of February 2017, according to Nielsen. Fox Business currently maintains an 8 percent ratings advantage over rival CNBC for the month of February.
POLL DU JOUR
• 52 percent of registered voters in Texas agree that immigrants, drugs and gang members illegally crossing the Mexican border is an “invasion”; 87 percent of Republicans, 48 percent of independents and 13 percent of Democrats agree.
• 48 percent of Texas voters overall support building a border wall; 87 percent of Republicans, 43 percent of independents and 7 percent of Democrats agree.
• 45 percent of Texas voters overall say building a wall is “consistent with American values”; 83 percent of Republicans, 45 percent of independents and 8 percent of Democrats agree.
• 45 percent of Texas voters overall say illegal immigration is a “national emergency”; 82 percent of Republicans, 42 percent of independents and 6 percent of Democrats agree.
Source: A Quinnipiac University poll of 1,222 registered Texas voters conducted Feb. 20-15.
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