President Donald Trump blasted the Wall Street Journal on Sunday morning, saying the newspaper misquoted him following a bizarre sit-down interview. But as the White House continues to engage in petty battles with the media, a larger issue is being overlooked.
The entire ordeal stems from Trump's interview, in which the WSJ reported that the president said, "I have a great relationship with [Chinese President Xi Jinping], as you know I have a great relationship with Prime Minister Abe of Japan and I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un of North Korea."
However, Trump has said he told the WSJ, "I'd probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un of North Korea." The differences in the two sentences being that the WSJ's quote makes it seem as if Trump said he already spoke directly with Kim and established a relationship with him, rather than Trump's assertion that he said a good relationship would be possible if the two ever spoke.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders angrily tweeted an image on Saturday night, that described the alleged misquoting, with the words "Fake News."
The White House then released its own audio recordings of the interview, in order to prove the WSJ was "misquoting" Trump.
Following attacks from the president over Twitter, the WSJ released their recordings of the interview on Saturday night, and steadfastly stood by its original reporting, which is that Trump said he has already spoken directly with North Korea's Kim, and that the two had a positive relationship.
Listening to both audio clips, it's still quite unclear if the president said, "I," or "I'd," but it's important to point out that the debate is nevertheless largely nonsensical. After it was reported that residents of Hawaii received a false alert about an incoming ballistic missile, Trump didn't issue a reassuring response and instead tweeted about "fake news," as Salon has previously reported. Tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have escalated significantly since Trump was sworn in last January, and while there have been small signs of improvement for the upcoming Olympics in South Korea, the threat of war is still very real. Following months of heightened tensions, the White House's priorities lie with a single word published by a newspaper, and its larger crusade against the media, while not remaining focused on diplomatic options to avert a potential crisis on the Korean Peninsula — or even the United States.