On Wednesday, the network morning shows portrayed President Trump’s stern warning to North Korea as being more “dangerous” than the rogue authoritarian regime threatening the world with nuclear weapons. Going into full panic mode, hosts and correspondents warned viewers that Trump was “going to make a bad situation worse” with his “blistering rhetoric.” At the top of NBC’s Today, co-host Matt Lauer proclaimed: “War of words. North Korea threatens to attack the U.S. territory of Guam after President Trump warns the regime with his harshest language yet… What will bring the two sides back from the brink?” Moments later, fellow co-host Savannah Guthrie hyped the “rapidly developing North Korea crisis” with “ominous threats being exchanged by the U.S. and the North Korean regime.”
After noting how North Korea was threatening to attack the U.S. territory of Guam, Lauer suggested Trump was to blame by provoking the hostile nation: “So what was the timing of this? Well, it followed a harsh warning hours earlier from President Trump that any further threats from Kim Jong Un would be met with, quote, ‘fire and fury like the world has never seen.’” In the report that followed, correspondent Andrea Mitchell asserted: “The North Korean threat, frighteningly routine for the rogue regime, was a chilling response to thunderous words from President Trump.” Later in the segment, she touted: “Meanwhile, the President’s strong language is being criticized by leading lawmakers of both parties. Democrat Dianne Feinstein calling his rhetoric “bombastic” and saying diplomacy is the only path. Republican John McCain cautioning Trump against making empty threats.” Mitchell concluded that “the real fear is that the rhetoric is escalating from both sides.”
In a discussion with military analyst Jack Jacobs and MSNBC anchor Nicolle Wallace, Guthrie fretted: “Let’s talk about the rhetoric… Is this the President giving Kim Jong Un a taste of his own medicine, maybe his own vocabulary? Or is it going to make a bad situation worse?” Jacobs downplayed the importance: “Well, I think it’s irrelevant, actually.” However, he quipped: “When I first heard the remarks…I thought that Kim Jong Un had said those remarks.” Guthrie pressed: “But is it dangerous? I mean, do the words matter in this context?” As Jacobs continued to reject the fearmongering language being pushed by the anchor, Lauer jumped in: “Let’s not dismiss the words so quickly. We all remember “shock and awe” in Iraq. “Fire and fury,” as a military guy, Jack, what do you read into “fire and fury”? Is this conventional weaponry? Or is he threatening something else?”
Meanwhile, Wallace was freaking out. “He has now drawn a far more stark, a far more inflammatory, a far more dangerous red line,” she declared of the President’s comments. “And he’s the kind of guy who would be sort of shamed into sort of keeping up with his own word,” Wallace added. She then incorrectly claimed: “So the language is so stunning because it contradicts all of the traditions of American military history.” In reality, in the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis, President John F. Kennedy issued the following warning during an address to the nation on October 22, 1962: “It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.”
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