Donald Trump took to the Russian state-owned TV station RT Thursday to criticize the American press and US foreign policy and further cozy up to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. The interview comes as Trump has faced increasing criticism for his frequent praise of Putin, most recently during an NBC Presidential forum on Wednesday night when he said of the brutal dictator, “certainly, in that system, he’s been a leader, far more than our president has been a leader.”
Because, of course being “a leader” in Trump’s mind means being a “leader” in the sense of a schoolyard bully, and what better way to get what you want than to abolish the silly hindrance of democracy. The numerous shady monetary ties between Trump’s campaign and Putin’s inner circle of oligarchs have also drawn increasing scrutiny, and many have connected this to his constant appeasement of the strongman.
All of that set the stage for Trump to take to RT, an outlet that serves as a bullhorn for Kremlin propaganda and takes a consistently anti-American stance, to criticize the American media. Asked what had surprised him most about the campaign, the Donald replied:
“I think the dishonesty of the media. The media has been unbelievably dishonest. I mean they’ll take a statement that you make which is perfect and they’ll cut it up and chop it up and shorten it or lengthen it or do something with it. And all of a sudden it doesn’t look as good as it did when you actually said it.”
Yes, Mr. Trump, the media “does things” with what you say, as in showing them to the world, which is indeed damaging, and those horrible bigoted things you seem to reflexively say “don’t look as good” in hindsight as when your demagogic brain decided to lob them out to fire up a crowd of bigots.
Criticism of the American media’s honesty is always rich coming from Trump given that he has proposed curbing press freedoms and his campaign has prohibited certain news organizations from attending his campaign events. His most recent comments, however, had an extra heaping of hypocrisy given that they came on the state-owned news channel of one of the world’s harshest dictatorships, where being asking the wrong questions as a journalist can leave you dead.
Trump also criticized American foreign policy in Iraq and Syria and announced his brilliant plans for the region, all of course in the vaguest of terms. He said he has a “very distinct plan” to deal with ISIS but declined to give any details – and, it should be added, wasn’t prompted to – and criticized the American withdrawal from Iraq as “horrible” and “foolish” without any details beyond his tired buzzwords.
He was also asked about the recent mass hack of the Democratic National Committee’s email server, which most cybersecurity officials have attributed to the Kremlin. On this unprecedented foreign intervention in American democracy Trump, as is always the case when Russia is the malefactor, lost all of his usual aggressive chauvinistic zealotry. Instead, he said he “thinks it’s probably unlikely” that Russia was responsible and “maybe the Democrats are putting that out. Who knows? But I think that it’s pretty unlikely.” Well, someone does know, and Russia was more than likely responsible. This is a typical strategy of Trump’s: when presented with facts he doesn’t like, ignore the facts and humbly say “who knows?” What we all should know, however, is that Trump’s ties to the brutal Russian dictatorship are becoming deeper and more frightening by the day.
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James DeVinne is a student at American University in Washington, DC majoring in International Service with a focus on the Middle East and South Asia. He is a founding member of Occupy Baltimore and interns at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy.