My job tends to keep me pretty far afield from the USA for much of the year. That’s given me the opportunity acquire an outside perspective on what’s happening in the US. You can’t really get much of that from Western Europe because they have the same media complex as we do. I consider them worse because alternative voices there tend to end up in jail, instead of just marginalized. What’s been most interesting to me is how East Asia has looked at the Trump era. It’s a place I’ve been spending a lot of time over the past decade.
When it comes to coverage of what’s going on in the US, the media over there is pretty lazy. As the 2016 election saga was playing out, they generally parroted much of the US media coverage. So, many East Asians were generally surprised that he was elected. After all, he was to them whatever CNN was saying about him. To an outsider, he lent himself pretty well to that portrayal. A belligerent, egotistical billionaire who has skyscrapers and aircraft emblazoned with his name had no problem coming across as a real life supervillain to people who were unfamiliar with what’s going on in Weimerica.
Most people who’d spent time in the US seemed to understand his victory in the context of hatred for Hillary Clinton. That doesn’t require much intuition; Hillary’s despicability is a dynamic that someone who just arrived here from Mars could readily understand after about 5 minutes. But, from what I could gather, the average person figured Trump was insane. I even saw a hilarious Japanese program with an ominous soundtrack that depicted Trump as an unhinged megalomaniac in league with a grinning, diabolical Li-Chard Spen-sa.
However, I’ve noticed that many of those perceptions have changed now that Trump is nearing two years in office. The contrast between what our MSM told them Trump would do during the election and what’s actually transpired since then is quite sharp. For instance, I was at a cocktail party recently and got to chatting with some (relatively) young professionals from Shanghai. In their opinion, Trump has been great for business and seems to have a much better working relationship with Xi than Obama. The “trade war” didn’t seem like a war to them, but a push for China to increase imports from the US. They didn’t feel that was unreasonable given the long term negative ramifications for both countries of such an unhealthy trade imbalance.
They couldn’t understand why the US media has such a fervent hatred for him. One of them pointed out how the Western media could expect to retain credibility while making claims that are so completely outlandish. He was most struck by the assertion that Trump would start a nuclear war if someone insulted his hair. Why would anyone say that who wished to be taken seriously? We spent a half hour discussing the complete absurdity of Russia stealing the US election. Even if you’re living in America and too smart to believe in that nonsense, it can still be easy to lose perspective on just how laughably senseless it really is when you’re constantly getting bombarded by every marque media outlet.
In China, the media is tightly controlled by the state. It’s there to advance CCP narratives, but they never seem to do anything as bizarre as what’s going on in Western (((media))) right now. The principle is pretty simple to understand: if you keep saying things that are patently ridiculous, people will stop believing you.