On the eve of the summit, the journalism of CNN and Reuters does not measure up to the event.
The CNN front page displays “Analysis: Putin reached goal befoe the handshake”, which links to With Putin, Trump insists he’ll be ‘different’ Quoting,
Vladimir Putin has stood the test of time through four American presidents, but from Donald Trump he is looking for one thing in particular: to be elevated on the world stage, away from global isolation...That goal has been achieved before their first handshake here.
According to the CNN theory of world history, which ranks in eminence with Arnold Toynbee, the crucial factors of historical turns are fetes and “optics” Their justification is the famous work, “World History Through the Lens of PR, Volume I”, which proves that the History of the World is just one photo op after another. Just as Reuters captured the recent North Korea events as a series of handshake photos.
Reuters has attempted a bit more sophistication by counting the official phone calls made by Trump and Putin. This is justified by “World History Through the Lens of PR, Second Edition”
The only problem is, that book does not exist. It’s BS. The idea that the Trump-Putin meeting has “optical” significance, with Putin the automatic “winner”, seems to be universal. Quoting from (Reuters) Trump and Putin to hold first summit talks as twitchy West looks on,
“We can say confidently that Putin’s political risks are lower than those of President Trump,” said Andrey Kortunov, head of RIAC, a Moscow think-tank close to the Russian Foreign Ministry….“Putin has less to lose and more to gain because he does not have a domestic opposition, a potentially hostile legislature, and is not begin investigated like Trump.
Even the Russians “believe.” This leaves no one in either camp to be influenced in any way, unless you count watchers in sports bars, who are likely to forget it in their alcoholic haze. Things which are universally believed are not likely to be true. Especially, ideas like prestige.
So the summit has been turned into a Simon Cowell talent competition about who has the best singing dog. Scroll back recent history, and try tracing the flow of history in terms of media events. You won’t find it.
Both CNN and Reuters have fallen into a trap, interpreting events in terms they are familiar with. CNN knows media, so they interpret the summit optically. Reuters is primarily a business information service, so they offer “business statistics” about Trump and Putin.
Optics is relevant to domestic politics. Business statistics are relevant to economics. The statistics of who calls who is relevant to the NSA and DHS, but not to the Reuters reader. How does this kind of journalism help the CNN or Reuters reader understand foreign affairs? Answer: Not at all. The real issues are buried by puff pieces. Both Reuters and CNN have done excellent pieces. But this is not their finest hour.
For a list of the issues that deserve exploration in journalism, read Trump-Putin Summit; An Executive Summary; The Oldest Russia Analyst.
I’m waiting with breathless anticipation for the next handshake photo or cakewalk.
I think I’d rather tune out and watch Carson’s singing dog contest instead.