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.
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.
- No comment: CNN’s Jackie Wattles says President Trump’s decision not to hold a press conference following the summit was “a major break with precedent.”
- Absence of information: The Atlantic’s David A. Graham writes that “Pundits eager to analyze the outcome of Friday’s first face-to-face meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin don’t have much to go on.”
- Russian perspective: The New York Times’s Neil MacFarquhar reports on “a certain degree of exulting in the Russian capital” following the meeting.
- Reaction from the administration: From Germany, CNN’s Dan Merica says Trump “declined to refute the Russian account of his meeting with Vladimir Putin.”
Other notable stories
- The latest round in the scoop wars goes to The New York Times. “President Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., was promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton before agreeing to meet with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign,” report Jo Becker, Matt Apuzzo, and Adam Goldman.
- The Times’s Jim Rutenberg reports that newspapers are hoping to win an antitrust exemption in order to team up to fight back against Facebook and Google’s dominance of the advertising market.
- The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi examines whether CNN White House reporter Jim Acosta is “grandstanding” or aggressively pushing for the truth.
- Reporting from Mosul, the Post’s Louisa Loveluck, Liz Sly, and Mustafa Salim describe a historic victory for Iraqi forces that has come at a tremendous price.
- For decades, Larry King has interviewed the top names in news and entertainment. NPR’s Jesse Thorn talks with King about his approach to those interviews in the latest episode of The Turnaround, a new podcast from CJR and Maximum Fun.
- Some job news from the homefront: David Uberti is heading from CJR to Splinter, the rebranded Fusion site, where he’ll be writing about the media. We’ll miss him around here, and wish him the best!