Much to Media's Disappointment, Trump's UK State Visit an Unmitigated Success

Much to Media's Disappointment, Trump's UK State Visit an Unmitigated Success Much to Media's Disappointment, Trump's UK State Visit an Unmitigated Success

The mainstream media had been eagerly awaiting US President Donald Trump’s state visit to the UK for some time indeed. After all, the POTUS has a habit of sparking controversy during his foreign trips.

For instance, the July 2018 NATO conference in Brussels saw him turn up late to a number of meetings, viciously and openly castigate Germany for not meeting the military alliance's two percent defence spending requirement and demand every member state meet the total, threatening to withdraw the US from the bloc if they didn't, and cancel or no-show a number of scheduled one-on-one summits with other leaders.

For news outlets, almost universally hostile to the President, it was a veritable goldmine of material. ‘What catastrophes will be unleashed by Trump's official state visit to the UK?' they surely wondered.

Jaws of Defeat

On 3rd June, the first day of the three-day sojourn, it looked like the POTUS wasn't going to disappoint before he'd even arrived. The previous day, London Mayor Sadiq Khan wrote an article for the Observer suggesting it was "un-British" to "roll out the red carpet" for Trump, and accused him of invoking similar language to that used by 20th century fascists.

Just before Air Force One touched down at Stansted Airport, the President took to Twitter to launch a vicious broadside against Khan, calling him a "stone cold loser" who was "very dumb" and "incompetent", mocking his diminutive stature.

​While his comments sent numerous journalists into meltdown, the attack was balanced with Trump pledging to be "a great friend" to the UK, and stating he was "looking very much forward" to his visit despite Khan's comments. In the process, the President made clear he wasn't going to allow his UK critics to ruin the visit, and highlighted how Khan's party, Labour, had very publicly opted to boycott the entire visit some weeks prior, a move condemned by government officials and contrary to public opinion — a majority (46 percent) of Britons were in favour of the trip going ahead. Perhaps they wanted a better look at Britain's "great friend".

"It's totally inappropriate for the Labour party to be boycotting this important visit…this is the President of the United States, and we're celebrating the D-Day landings when we had a million US servicemen in the UK, willing to risk their lives for our liberty, our democracy, our values. This should be above party politics…it's absolutely disgraceful," UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said.

The day would go on to be a disaster — albeit for Trump's critics, given it transpired without a single hitch. The disappointment of news outlets was palpable — NBC foreign correspondent Keir Simmons perhaps summed up the media mood best towards the end of the day when he assured viewers the footage dominating news networks of the President being warmly received by the Royal Family and appearing to be having a rather successful trip might not tell the full story.

"Despite these pictures that are playing out…behind the scenes there are rumblings and questions. The American and the British press, which are two of the most inquisitive and determined press in the world…if there have been incidents, they are likely to to discover them and publicise them. I don't think we can necessarily assume just because this is looking good now it will look good in the next few days," he said.

Dissatisfaction was writ large on the faces of a great many TV reporters- as footage of handfuls of protesters waving banners bearing anodyne slogans such as ‘Resist Racism' and ‘Say No To Trump' played on an infinite loop, they awkwardly discussed how the day's public displays of dissent were somewhat negligible, but promised tomorrow would see the inflatable Trump baby soaring above London and rioting in the streets.

The End Is Nigh!

True to form, the next morning saw news outlets concoct two imaginary and quickly extinguished scandals in the space of a single hour. First, it was announced Conservative leadership frontrunner Boris Johnson, who Trump had personally endorsed, wouldn't be meeting with the President during his UK jaunt. Widely reported initially as a vicious rebuff indicating Johnson believed Trump's support to be harmful to his high office prospects, it was quickly clarified Johnson was in fact merely busy with campaign duties, and the pair had settled for a "friendly and productive" discussion via phone.

Then, when the POTUS arrived at Downing Street at around 11am, there was widespread journalistic outcry after he and the Prime Minister failed to shake hands. Was Theresa May slighting Trump? Was Trump snubbing May? Was it a mere mistake, owing to Trump being diplomatically inept, political inexperienced and generally unfit for office? ‘Handshakegate' began to trend on Twitter, only for it to transpire the pair had in fact shaken hands earlier at an event in St. James' Palace.

As for the protests? They did materialise, but again news outlets were left wanting — instead of record-breaking numbers of activists engaging in incendiary conduct, a few thousand gathered peacefully in Trafalgar Square in preparation for a march to Parliament, but many didn't complete the journey due to the sudden onset of extremely heavy rain.

Nonetheless, Jeremy Corbyn did give a speech to those drenched demonstrators who made the trip, although the crowd seemingly ignored his entreaties to reject hatred and violence, yelling incendiary abuse at Trump supporters who turned up to the event. One grandfather donning a ‘Make America Great Again' hat was drenched in a milkshake while an NHS worker shrieked ‘Nazi!' in his face over and over again.