Senior members of the Trump administration reacted poorly to Trump’s decision to shut out American press from his visit with Russian diplomats while allowing TASS, Russia’s state-owned news service, to cover the event. By giving the Russians exclusive access to the meeting, the Kremlin was able to control the narrative surrounding the visit, a fact that has left American officials incensed.
Per The Daily Beast:
“This isn’t an ‘America First’ policy,” one of the [senior administration] officials fumed of the White House’s decision “to let the biggest perpetrator of fake news into the Oval Office.” Trump, the official added, is “either in bed with the Russians or too stupid to understand the severity of this mistake. Either way, the implications are truly terrifying.”
While there were no American photographers in the meeting between Trump and the Russian foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, a TASS photographer was present and immediately published the photos onto its own website.
When American news sources published photos from the meeting, they were forced to credit the Russian Foreign Ministry, a move that infuriated U.S. newspapers who should not have to source an adversarial foreign power to cover their own President.
“It’s boneheaded on so many levels but it’s certainly insulting to the U.S. press to be forced to use TASS photos and to identify [Russian state media] as its source for a meeting between Lavrov and Trump.”
When asked for an explanation on their decision to give TASS exclusive access to the event, the White House claimed that they “were not informed by the Russians that their official photographer was dual-hatted and would be releasing the photographs on the state news agency.”
The senior Trump official retorted, “Of course they knew what TASS was, everybody does. If they didn’t then it’s a pretty shameful admission, honestly.”
Yesterday, the United States was embarrassed by Russia, and President Trump not only let it happen, but pretended as if he was not to blame. While the White House may feign ignorance, they are doing nothing to assuage fears that our President is a puppet for the Kremlin. For an “America First” President, Trump is frighteningly deferential to Russia over the Americans.
Brian Tyler Cohen is a political writer, actor, and comedy sketch director. He graduated from Lehigh University with a dual degree in English and Business. He currently lives in Los Angeles.