President Donald Trump's first official state visit to Asia is going fairly swimmingly (though there might be a few overfed Koi that would disagree — literally), but that doesn't mean the media is at all interested in portraying Trump's visit to Japan as a roaring success. In fact, they've been bending over backwards to tell a totally different story.
On Monday, Trump appeared with a host of Japanese and American business leaders at a conference in Tokyo. While there, Trump made what appeared to be a joke at the expense of Japanese auto-makers, which the media — including CNN, which has already deceptively edited a video of Trump feeding the palace fish — claimed demonstrated Trump's ignorance on the subject of car manufacturing.
“Try building your cars in the United States instead of shipping them over,” Trump said. “Is that possible to ask? That's not rude. Is that rude? I don't think so.”
CNN, snarkily, headlined their story: "Trump asks Japan to build cars in the U.S. It already does."
The "just facts" network crowed, "Japanese automakers have tried: The country's big three car companies already have huge factories in the U.S., and their production in the country is at a record high." — as if Trump were unaware of how deeply, and internationally, integrated the auto-making industry really is.
In fact, Trump is aware — and a full reading of his speech indicates that he might actually be more aware than CNN. According to Trump's full remarks, the President not only acknowledged a U.S.-Japanese partnership in auto manufacturing, he specifically praised several automakers present for their stateside production, He even thanks two automakers by name for their American production plans (emphasis ours).
When you want to build your auto plants, you will have your approvals almost immediately. When you want to expand your plants, you will have your approvals almost immediately. And in the room, we have a couple of the great folks from two of the biggest auto companies in the world that are building new plants and doing expansions of other plants. And you know who you are, and I want to just thank you very much. I want to thank you.
I also want to recognize the business leaders in the room whose confidence in the United States — they've been creating jobs — you have such confidence in the United States, and you've been creating jobs for our country for a long, long time. Several Japanese automobile industry firms have been really doing a job. And we love it when you build cars — if you're a Japanese firm, we love it — try building your cars in the United States instead of shipping them over. Is that possible to ask? That's not rude. Is that rude? I don't think so. (Laughter.) If you could build them. But I must say, Toyota and Mazda — where are you? Are you here, anybody? Toyota? Mazda? I thought so. Oh, I thought that was you. That's big stuff. Congratulations. Come on, let me shake your hand. (Applause.) They're going to invest $1.6 billion in building a new manufacturing plant, which will create as many as 4,000 new jobs in the United States. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.
The Toyota and Mazda deals have been big news in the Trump administration. In fact, this isn't even the first time Trump has thanked the two automakers for their American investment.
As The Washington Post — of all outlets — points out, Trump announced the Toyota and Mazda deals on Twitter, and the White House sent out a signed letter from the President, "applauding" (the Post's own words) the Japanese automakers for creating the kind of trade partnership the Trump White House campaigned on inking.
But this sort of deliberate manipulation has been endemic throughout the President's Asia trip — and he's barely on his third day abroad. Over the weekend, media lost their marbles over Ivanka Trump, who is accompanying her father on his Asian tour, largely because she's familiar with Chinese and Japanese manufacturing from her days working at the helm of a clothing company (and because she's a celebrity in Japan).
The New York Times was quick to point out that Ivanka's speech was "sparsely attended." Another outlet took issue with her "too-short skirt." Meanwhile, Japanese fashion blogs have been exploding with news about the First Daughter and her wardrobe.