Networks Focus on Trump’s Vacations, Golf Outings
Featured Image: Screenshot/ABC News
President Donald Trump’s numerous leisure activities during his presidency have frustrated many Americans. On April 14 ABC, NBC and CBS raised this issue early in their broadcasts.
“As those tensions with North Korea ratchet up,” ABC anchor Tom Llamas said, “President Trump is back at Mar-a-Lago, where he will spend the Easter weekend without much of his senior staff.”
Llamas interviewed correspondent David Wright, who expressed concern from the public about “whether Mar-a-Lago is secure enough to handle a crisis.” Wright referenced a February meeting at the resort in which Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe discussed the North Korea situation in view of club members.
NBC correspondent Kristen Welker said Trump would be monitoring North Korea’s actions from Mar-a-Lago, adding that he spent the day “making some time for golf but also getting updates from national security staffers who are traveling with him.”
Instead of connecting Trump’s vacation with North Korea, CBS featured a story about Congress members returning to their districts for a two-week recess. Correspondent Nancy Cordes listed “President Trump’s pricey trips to Mar-a-Lago” as an important issue Congressman Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) had to address when meeting constituents.
Did the networks focus too much on the president’s vacation habits? John Twohey, former senior editor of the Chicago Tribune, doesn’t think so.
“I think it’s fair to wonder why the president isn’t willing to alter his lifestyle to take advantage of what the White House provides,” Twohey said. “I think it’s one thing to go to Mar-a-Lago to play golf once a month … but to be down there every weekend does raise a lot of questions about his judgment.”
Twohey also felt NBC’s mention of Trump playing golf is justifiable given his repeated criticism of former President Barack Obama golfing.
“I think it’s a case of hypocrisy. You’re really displaying kind of a childlike acquaintance with the truth,” he said. “In principle, there’s nothing wrong with the president playing golf, but months after you accuse President Obama of a dereliction of duty and you’re playing … more than he ever did, that’s newsworthy.”
Although CBS only covered Trump’s vacations indirectly that night, Twohey alluded to earlier broadcasts in defending the network’s decision.
“This has been a topic of media attention since the president took office, his insistence on getting out of Washington as frequently as he can,” he said. “I think that CBS really called Trump out for behaving that way at Mar-a-Lago.”
“What they chose to do is kind of allow a citizen to speak up,” Twohey added, referring to the meetings between Congress members and constituents. “They told the bigger story, the broader story, earlier. Letting this citizen speak was fine.”
In general, Twohey said, the president’s travel plans are not significant enough to include on a nightly news broadcast. However, this changes when a potentially dangerous situation arises.
“When a crisis develops like the North Koreans’ missile test,” he said, “the country is better off if the president is in Washington and in the White House and with easy access to his team.”