A resistance movement within the administration trying to derail some of President Donald Trump’s most controversial policies? At a different time and in a different era, Wednesday’s bombshell op-ed by an anonymous senior Trump administration official in the New York Times would have been front page news across the globe.
But in the era of Trump and after months of similar revelations, foreign commentators didn’t even bother to repeat what they’ve been saying for more than a year and a half now: The president is unhinged and a menace to the world order.
Some did call the unsigned column "frightening" and France’s two big papers both referred to it as being "explosive." A similar sentiment was echoed by social media users and journalists across the world, with one German evening news anchor describing the op-ed as a "revolt against the president by his own staff," and readers responding to a viral tweet whether now would be the best time to invade the United States.
Julia Ioffe tweeted "Says an anonymous friend, ‘Man, if anyone ever wanted to invade America, now’s the time.’?"
But other media outlets had already moved on by Thursday morning. Here are only some stories major European media outlets featured more prominently: a possible ban on diesel cars in some cities, the world’s fastest SUV breaking a record and people deciding to retire at age 40.
Danish social media users were still circulating a piece that had published a day earlier, explaining why Europe was no longer interested in learning even more details about the White House. "Another book comes with revelations about Trump — but has the world become immune?" the headline of a piece on Danish TV network TV2’s website read, referring to European reactions to a book on the White House by reporter Bob Woodward.
"It is the story of a government leader apparently being described by some of his closest employees as being ignorant, unpredictable and uninterested in acquiring the necessary knowledge to execute the job as leader of the world’s most powerful nation in a way that does not put the nation’s security at stake ... Nevertheless, the coverage has been sparse and shallow so far," wrote TV2 commentator Mirco Reimer-Elster.
Meanwhile, German weekly Die Zeit replaced its coverage of the NYT op-ed with an extensive poll on the things Germans fear most. "Nothing worries the people of Germany more than the current U.S. president," the paper summarized. While 59 percent of Germans feared terrorism, 69 percent were afraid of Trump, according to a representative annual survey.
German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle’s analysis echoed that sentiment, writing that recent revelations described an "incompetent and dangerous president." But writer Michael Knigge concluded that "the average American will likely ignore all of this."
Meanwhile, Britain’s conservative Telegraph newspaper was still exploring solutions, explaining how exactly Trump could be removed from office under the 25th Amendment. In the NYT op-ed published on Wednesday, the unnamed administration official described "early whispers" of invoking the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. Officials later decided against that option.
"The latest leaked account will heap further pressure on Mr. Trump," Britain’s Telegraph predicted.
But Germany’s conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wondered whether the op-ed may also play into Trump’s hands. "Whenever someone will try to counter the president’s impulsive reactions with sober-mindedness in the future, he or she could come under suspicion of being the ‘traitor,’?" the paper’s author wrote in a piece with the skeptical headline: "Self-declared heroes in the White House."
Rick Noack is a foreign affairs reporter who covers Europe and international security issues from the Washington Post’s Berlin bureau.
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