How the PM’s visit was seen by the American mediaby Andrew Stuttaford / February 1, 2017 / Leave a comment
The prospect of Theresa May’s arrival in the United States on Thursday failed to make much of an impression on the front pages of American newspapers. (That day’s Wall Street Journal did, however, find room for an article on “wily hotel thermostats.”) Undeterred, the prime minister started her visit by addressing a gathering of Congressional Republicans in Philadelphia. In its description of the event, the right-of-centre Washington Times, related how May had told her audience that Donald Trump’s victory and the GOP wins in Congress promised “a new era of American renewal.” What’s more, with conservative governments in both the US and UK, this was an opportunity to renew the special relationship.
The Washington Times made no mention of May’s defence of the United Nations, which she called “in need of reform, but vital still.” But the Associated Press reported that May had cautioned Trump “not to turn his back on global institutions.” It noted May’s praise for Trump’s determination to take on Islamic extremism, but also that she had cautioned her Republican audience that “We should always be careful to distinguish between this extreme and hateful ideology, and the peaceful religion of Islam and the hundreds of millions of its adherents,” wording it interpreted as criticism of Trump’s campaign season comments on Muslim immigration (as it turned out, Trump’s executive order on immigration was signed the next day.)
The left-leaning CNN took a somewhat jaundiced view of the prime ministerial visit, quoting various British critics including Liberal Democrat Vince Cable, who had Tweeted that May was wrong to “grovel” to Trump, a verb repeated in coverage in Slate and the Washington Post. And did CNN’s description of the hamper of British goodies that accompanied May, which included damson jam, marmalade and Bakewell tarts, contain just a trace of mockery? Then again, Barack Obama gave Gordon Brown a box of DVDs, a modest gift made more modest by the fact that they were in the wrong format.
On Friday, the prime minister was absent from the headlines on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition (an approximate and inadequate equivalent of Radio 4’s Today programme), at least when I was getting up. The Wall Street Journal failed to hold the front page…