CELEBRATING 20 YEARS OF EXCELLENCE: Countdown: Top stories of 2018
by WorldTribune Staff, December 28, 2018
From scolding him for first not visiting the troops, to then slamming him when he did visit the troops, to his supposed outing of a covert Navy SEAL team, the major media painted President Donald Trump as a major Grinch this Christmas.
Among the headlines:
“Trump Iraq visit is called a political rally” – The New York Times
“MAGA hat, campaign rhetoric cast cloud over Trump Iraq visit” – CNN
“Donald Trump Twitter account video reveals covert U.S. Navy SEAL deployment during Iraq visit” – Newsweek
It was NBC News which first falsely reported that the president had broken with years of tradition by not visiting with U.S. troops at “Christmastime”.
NBC’s Christmas Day headline read: “Trump becomes first president since 2002 not to visit troops at Christmastime”.
The president and first lady Melania Trump made a surprise visit to U.S. troops in Iraq on Dec. 26. It has long been customary for the White House to be secretive when it comes to presidential travel to war-torn areas and active combat zones. The White House did not confirm the trip until mid-afternoon on Dec. 26.
Ivan Pentchoukov in an analysis for The Epoch Times noted that “Although the president’s unannounced visit relegated the story to the ‘fake news’ category, NBC continues to stand by its report, relying on the vocabulary definition of ‘Christmastime.’ ”
After Trump’s visit, NBC changed the wording of the article to “By staying home on Tuesday, Trump became the first president since 2002 who didn’t visit military personnel on or before Christmas.”
After being called out for its “fake news” story, NBC News issued an extended editor’s note (which still argues that the article was “correct” at the time of publication), admitting that Trump’s unannounced visit to Iraq means that “the thrust of this article is no longer correct.”
President Barack Obama visited troops in Hawaii during “Christmastime” every year for eight years as part of his vacation, according to NBC.
The vacations cost taxpayers an estimated $35 million, according to The Washington Times.
Meanwhile, Pentchoukov noted that “instead of covering the heartwarming occasion of the commander-in-chief’s Christmas visit to a war zone, CNN ran an entire report suggesting that soldiers may have broken a military rule by bringing Make America Great Again hats for Trump to sign during the visit.”
Trump said that he did not bring the hats to the troops, as some media outlets suggested.
The president tweeted: “CNN & others within the Fake News Universe were going wild about my signing MAGA hats for our military in Iraq and Germany. If these brave young people ask me to sign their hat, I will sign. Can you imagine my saying NO? We brought or gave NO hats as the Fake News first reported!”
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted: “CNN will attack anyone who supports President Trump, including the brave men and women of our military who fight every day to protect our freedom.”
Reports by Newsweek and NBC asserting that Trump had revealed, in a tweeted video, the location and identities of members of a “covert” SEAL Team in Iraq were also called into question.
Newsweek said in its report: “While the commander-in-chief can declassify information, usually the specific special operations unit is not revealed to the American public, especially while U.S. service members are deployed. Official photographs and videos typically blur the individual faces of special operation forces, due to the sensitive nature of their job. The president’s video posted Wednesday did not shield the faces of special operation forces.”
Many, including SEAL Team 6 member Robert O’Neill, took to Twitter to destroy Newsweek’s reporting.
O’Neill tweeted: “If they are covert, do you really think they’d be at a photo op?”
A retired Navy SEAL told The Daily Caller on condition of anonymity that, based on the video alone, it was clear that those pictured were not currently involved in a covert operation. For one thing, they were too “clean-cut.”
“If they’re truly ‘downrange’ and involved in a covert op they would look different – you try to look native, don’t go out clean-shaven. When you’re in the Middle East, you got a beard. You grow your hair out. If you’re clean cut, you might as well put a ‘kill me’ stamp on your head.”
The retired SEAL also argued that a sitting president would never even be brought into a forward area during a “kinetic operation” in progress, as that would unnecessarily endanger the operators, the president and everyone else in the vicinity.
The fact that the team was relaxed, clean-shaven and taking photographs, he said, suggested that there was no such operation in progress for Trump to endanger. “This is a hot, steaming bowl of nothing,” he concluded.
Task and Purpose reported a similar line of thinking, arguing that if the SEAL Team were, in fact, involved in a covert operation, no one would know they were even there.
“Simply belonging to a SEAL Team doesn’t make your every move ‘covert,’ especially if you’re hanging out in the DFAC during the commander-in-chief’s visit. All of this is to say that if SEAL Team 5 was deployed to Iraq on a covert mission, there’s no way in hell anyone, including conventional U.S. forces, would likely know they were there.”