The Media Today

The Media Today: Accounts of Trump-Putin meeting expose a WH credibility gap

July 10, 2017

For months journalists have warned about issues of credibility stemming from the White House’s shaky grasp on the truth. Whether interpretations of crowd sizes or what the president meant in his social media postings, the lack of honesty and consistency has led to warnings about what would happen when the administration needed to speak with a unified voice about an important event. After Donald Trump’s meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin in Germany, those concerns came to fruition.

With only the two leaders, their top diplomatic officials, and translators in the room, the press and public were left to rely on official statements regarding what was discussed. Both sides acknowledged that Trump raised the issue of Russian meddling in the 2016 US election, but their accounts differed over how Trump reacted to Putin’s denial of involvement. Furthermore, Trump tweeted that he had not discussed sanctions on Russia, contradicting Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s account of the meeting.

ICYMI: “Americans are learning from Trump that much of their democracy was run on the honor system”

Who should we believe? Trump? Tillerson? The Russians? That we even have to ask the question speaks volumes about the distrust engendered by the current administration. Trump’s decision to break precedent by not holding a press conference after the G20 summit didn’t help matters. Meanwhile, both Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov appeared on camera. Tillerson did answer reporters’ questions, but did so in an audio-only format. At a time when questions about the Trump sphere’s connections to Russia continue to swirl, the White House’s lack of transparency only adds fuel to the fire.

Below, more on the reaction to President Trump’s first face-to-face meeting with the Russian president.


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Pete Vernon is a former CJR staff writer. Follow him on Twitter @ByPeteVernon.