Each time President Donald Trump has gone to visit troops overseas for a holiday, the media has either criticized it or said it wasn’t going to happen altogether.
We’ve compiled the most biggest flubs from the media when it comes to his relationship with the troops.
“Golfing, tweeting, and more” on Thanksgiving: Newsweek — 2019
Newsweek published a story the day of Thanksgiving declaring Trump would be spending his day “golfing, tweeting, and more,” in its initial headline.
Shot & chaser pic.twitter.com/sSKG0hFYXv
— Amber Athey (@amber_athey) November 28, 2019
While Trump’s official schedule featured a call with the troops and placed him at Mar-a-Lago for the day, he ultimately made an unannounced trip to Afghanistan to visit the troops in person.
“I’ll be talking to you later but right now I want to have some turkey. I’m going to join you for a little lunch,” Trump said after doling out servings of turkey. “We’re also going to shake hands with some of the folks. Thank you very much. What a great job you do. It’s an honor to be here.” (RELATED: POTUS Greeted With Cheers As He Talks About Death Of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi)
Newsweek later changed the headline, but Twitter users — including the president — ruthlessly criticized the outlet.
I thought Newsweek was out of business? https://t.co/3ro4eSJloo
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 29, 2019
MAGA Hats Are Illegal: Various Outlets — 2018
President Trump visited troops in Iraq and Germany for Christmas in 2018 and several brought him “Make America Great Again” hats for him to sign. Multiple outlets said that may have been a violation of military code.
Trump flag (she dropped it after she saw me taking a photo) pic.twitter.com/LhPwUNdEK3
— Jennifer Epstein (@jeneps) December 27, 2018
“Trump has blurred the line between the office of the presidency and the campaign to such a degree that it is making it much more difficult for troops to make that distinction on their own,” CNN military analyst John Kirby argued at the time. “It’s bad enough that Trump doesn’t see a problem with signing campaign paraphernalia at a military base, maybe even more so that some of our troops are OK with it.”
Days later, the White House denied distributing the hats, saying the soldiers had acquired them on their own and brought them to the event. Then-Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the hats shows support for Trump personally, but were not an explicit political endorsement on the part of the military.
Trump Skipped Troops For Christmas: Various Outlets — 2018
Numerous outlets reported that President Trump became the first president not to visit the troops during Christmastime since 2002. NBC News first reported Trump as skipping out on the tradition on Christmas day, just as Trump and his wife were arriving in Iraq.
President Trump becomes first president since 2002 not to visit troops at Christmastime. (RELATED: Trump Requires South Korea To Pay 400% More For US Troops After Threats From North Koreans)
— NBC News (@NBCNews) December 25, 2018
Liberal political commentator Soledad O’brien argued that the NBC story had been the catalyst for Trump’s trip, but Fox News commentator Brit Hume set her straight.
Yes, Ma’am. Trump read this tweet when it was posted and time-traveled himself back to yesterday and flew to Iraq. Genius take.
— Brit Hume (@brithume) December 26, 2018
In reality, Trump’s unannounced trip to Iraq had been scheduled weeks in advance, but had been withheld from the media for security reasons. Nevertheless, once they admitted it happened, the media framed the visit as Trump bending to public pressure to visit the troops.
“The president’s visit to Al Asad Air Base west of Baghdad, which was shrouded in secrecy, follows months of public pressure for him to spend time with troops deployed to conflicts in the Middle East and punctuates the biggest week of turmoil the Pentagon has faced during his presidency,” the Washington Post wrote at the time, only to back away from that framing later.
The media has criticized Trump’s relationship with the military on nearly every major holiday since 2018, including July 4 when the president took part in a massive military parade in Washington, D.C.
It remains to be seen whether the media will once again jump the gun on Christmas this year.