One of the establishment press's rules about the Donald Trump era is apparently, "There shall be no puff pieces."
The Washington Post's Simon Denyer unilaterally decided to extend this rule to Arabella Kushner, the President's young granddaughter, giving him free rein to tell readers that her wonderful singing for China's president wasn't really an unconditionally wonderful event — because, you see, she was "forced to perform."
Previous examples of potential puff pieces which have turned into digs at Trump include at least the following:
- Two Time correspondents, invited to a dinner with the Trumps, observed that the President gets two scoops of ice cream while other guests get one. A veritable media frenzy ensued about how this proved that Trump is "a man unable to restrain his urges" and "a little boy president."
- CNN and other outlets who watched Trump and the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe feeding koi (i.e., carp) made it appear as if the President dumped his fish food into the drink out of impatience and created an international embarrassment with his "break in protocol" — even though the Prime Minister had similarly dumped his remaining fish food supply mere seconds earlier.
Speaking of protocol, whatever happened to "leave the kids alone"? Oh yeah, that only applies to young children associated with Democratic Party presidents.
Trump’s granddaughter gets praise and sympathy for singing for Chinese president
For many Chinese people, it was a slightly excruciating reminder of their own childhoods, that moment when their parents aggressively boast of their accomplishments in front of other people, or, even worse, force them to perform for relatives and members of the older generation.
But for 6-year-old Arabella Kushner, the difference was that her performance would be scrutinized by none other than the Chinese president, his wife and a good proportion of the Chinese nation.
Shortly after arriving in China, President Trump proudly showed his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping a video of his granddaughter singing and reciting poems in Mandarin.
The video later became a hit on the Chinese Internet, as did another video of Arabella doing the same thing back in 2016. She also performed for Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan, when they visited Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in April.
This time, Arabella, in a Chinese-style dress and in front of an American flag, dedicated her performance to “Grandpa Xi” and “Grandma Peng.” The Chinese leader in turn graded her with an “A plus.”
Her Chinese is very good: She is reported to have been learning it from her Chinese nanny since she was an infant.
Given that she performed live for Xi Jinping and his wife earlier this year, it seems likely that Arabella would have wanted to tape this performance.
This apparently never occurred to Denyer, who later returned to the pressured-kid angle:
But there were also plenty of comments expressing sympathy for the small child, from people who may have suffered their own mild childhood embarrassments.
“No one’s daughter can escape the destiny of performing in public,” one user posted on weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, in a typical and widely shared comment.
... Just one weibo post of this video, by state news agency Xinhua, had alone generated 11.69 million views by Thursday evening, 8,849 forwards, 5,090 comments and 31,302 likes.
Given the huge volume of interest in the video in China, it would be worth knowing what Simon Denyer's thresholds were for determining "plenty of comments" and "widely shared" negative sentiments. Of course, he didn't tell us — which tells me that it really wasn't all that many.
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As the press continues to plumb the depths during the Trump era, we're learning that they won't allow any event or any story, no matter how obviously nice, to get past them without some injection of negativity — even if it concerns a six year-old child.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.