North Korea: Speculation and an Apolitical News Media

Since the beginning of the Trump administration, the news media–in addition to politicians themselves–have turned every issue into a chance to critique the president. However, when it comes to North Korea, the news media are surprisingly staying away from taking stances and are largely sticking to the facts.

The New York Times, an outlet that has been known to criticize the president, his policies and his administration as a whole, has refrained from being outwardly political about this particular issue. The Times, along with many others, have largely published stories about facts, specifically on US efforts to hamper North Korean missile advancements and dissecting the details of North Korea’s recent military parade.

The Washington Post, another news outlet that the president himself has called “dishonest,” also stayed away from expressing any strong political opinions. Even their recent opinion pieces on North Korea haven’t strongly criticized the president’s policy toward the dictatorship. One of the very few opinion pieces that recently was published shifted focus to South Korea’s current political situation instead of the Trump administration’s responses to North Korean aggression thus far.

While some are criticizing the president for his tweets on North Korea, most outlets are avoiding criticism or praise altogether. The Post even referenced Trump’s dealing with North Korea as “strategic impatience,” while CNN published an article simply titled, “Trump may have to be patient about North Korea.”

The recent coverage of North Korea is a stark contrast to the coverage of the last major foreign policy issues: the missile strike in Syria and the dropping of the “Mother of All Bombs” in Afghanistan.

The news media immediately politicized both events. With regard to the Afghanistan bombing that killed 36 ISIS militants, outlets like CNN chose to focus on Trump’s lack of authorization–reporting on the broad authority the president gave to his military officials. Other outlets, like the National Review, praised the attack and called the bomb “delightful.”

The Syrian missile strike, was widely interpreted as a retaliation against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons, and many opinion pieces were quick to openly criticize the president’s policy. Media outlets questioned the entire premise of the strike, speculating about increased tensions with Moscow, and even questioned Trump’s overall foreign policy stance.

Despite increasing tensions, mainstream news outlets that were previously quick to criticize the administration and assess the president’s policies have largely taken a quieter role when approaching the North Korean issue.

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