On Wednesday night, controversy broke over President Trump’s Memorial Day Weekend visit to Japan when Wall Street Journal White House reporter Rebecca Ballhaus tweeted that the White House wanted the U.S.S. John McCain “out of sight” for Trump’s visit. She also reported that “a tarp was hung over the ship’s name” and that sailors “who wear caps bearing the ship’s name were given the day off.” It soon went viral and refueled President Trump’s longstanding feud with late Senator John McCain.
The Navy’s Chief of Information later disputed the story, saying that the name on the ship was not obscured during the President’s visit, nor were sailors given the day off. President Trump tweeted that he was not informed about anything having to do with the ship so the full story remains unclear.
Never missing the opportunity to give Trump bad press, the mainstream media reacted by completely blowing the story out of proportion. One particularly over-the-top take came courtesy of Jon Meacham.
On a Thursday segment of MSNBC's Morning Joe, Meacham, most famous for running Newsweek into the dirt, said that the White House requesting to move the U.S.S. McCain, the details of which are still unclear, was akin to the actions of the Soviet Union (click “expand”):
Senator McCain was Banquo’s ghost for Trump, right? He represents everything that Donald Trump is not. Heroic figure, sacrifice, so that --- that's clear. The other thing that's clear is that basically we now have a capital city that is trying to childproof the presidency, right? You want to take everything away, all the sharp objects, you know, everything that he might, you know, run over. [PANEL LAUGHS] And so, I mean, this is where we are. We thought the Soviet Union ended on Christmas Day 1991, but apparently not. Apparently we just sort of airbrush out things. We cover things up that might upset dear leader. And so, you know, we're going to be dealing with this for a long time. One of the things --- I know I've said this before, but that's never stopped me --- we know that the presidency has not changed Donald Trump. But what we don't yet know is to what extent Donald Trump has changed the presidency and will this kind of really totalitarian mindset infect the office going forward? Unclear. We --- throughout our history, we have had moments of chaos and then order. That's been the story. You know, Nixon gives us a Ford, Andrew Johnson gave us a Grant. So, there have been moments of crisis and then restoration. That's what we have to hope work and work for is the latter.
There is no denying that, if the story were true, it would be a bad look for the White House. But, at most, White House staffers asked the Navy to move the ship to which they didn’t comply.
Meacham’s reaction shows just how much anti-Trump journalists froth at the mouth when given any opportunity to give Trump a bad headline, even if it means forgetting how much they trashed John McCain during the 2008 election.