Winning the News Cycle: Trump’s Made-for-TV Singapore Summit

Probably the most vapid phenomenon in modern American politics is something known as “winning the news cycle.” The thinking goes that if your version of events dominates the media coverage during a given news cycle, you “win” that day. Stack up enough days, continues the theory, and you win the week, the month, the year, the next election, and so forth.

It’s an utterly substance-free tactic — if your “version of events” is a ball of brazen lies, as it all too often is, you still “win the day” if the media is carrying your water — that has never been more vividly on display than it was this week in Singapore. Donald Trump was not seeking peace when he met Kim Jong Un on Tuesday. He wanted the handshake picture so he could set his mighty spin machine to “11” and turn it loose. He wanted to “win the news cycle,” and credit where credit is due, he did exactly that.

The joint statement signed by Kim and Trump after the summit, however, fell far short of the fanfare afforded it within the news cycle. While Trump made concessions that some anti-war activists have hailed as a positive de-escalation of tensions and possibly the beginning of a peace process — including announcing an end to the joint military drills in South Korea — he did not extract any concessions worth noting in return. While the joint statement called for “complete denuclearization,” it fell far short on some vital details: A timeline for disarmament, a process for verification, and what other nations, if any, will be involved. “We’ll talk about talking about talking about stuff” was the agreement he came away with. Pretty flimsy in the main.

In order to establish the proper context for Tuesday’s events, please watch this video. It was put together by the National Security Council, and Trump played it for Kim on a tablet during their remarkably tiny meeting. “Destiny Pictures presents a story of opportunity,” intones the narrator over a montage of disjointed…

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