AP story on pricey gifts to Trump White House never once mentions precedent for such gifts – Washington Examiner

Foreign leaders heaped nearly $140,000 worth of gifts on President Trump and his family in 2017, according to a new report by the State Department’s Office of the Chief of Protocol.

In other words, Trump got the same treatment as every other U.S. president dating back to at least Herbert Hoover. Weirdly enough, the Associated Press’ write-up of the State Department report makes no mention of that part. It turns out that the world did not begin in January 2017, and that there is a history of world leaders showering U.S. presidents and their families with flattering and expensive tributes.

The AP report begin first by focusing on the gifts from China and the Saudi and Gulf Arab states: A calligraphy box valued at $14,400 and a porcelain dinnerware set worth $16,250, a $6,400 ruby and emerald necklace, a gold-plated model of a fighter jet valued at around $4,850, a $3,700 bronze statue, $1,610 worth of gold-plated Kuwaiti coins, and “royal” perfume valued at around $1,260.

The report also includes this curious passage [emphasis added]:

Other lines in this putatively objective AP report seem designed to cast shade, such as, “Some gifts seemed designed to appeal to the president’s ego.” The supposedly flattering gifts include a portrait of Trump from Vietnam’s prime minister and a photo album of Trump and Trump Tower in New York City from Poland’s president.

Because it’s an AP story, it was soon aggregated and cross-posted at other news websites, including NBC News’. The reaction on social media was about you’d expect from a story framed the way the AP did with this one: “While Americans struggle to make ends meet, getting screwed by the #TrumpTaxScam, Foreign leaders, including from Saudi Arabia and China, lavish Trump with $140,000 in gifts,” complained Miami Herald columnist Lesley Abravanel.

This sort of reaction seems almost reasonable — so long as you know nothing about the history and context of gifts to U.S. presidents from foreign heads of state. And if all you read were the AP report, you really wouldn’t know anything about it.

You wouldn’t know, for example, that the Obamas received nearly $1.3 million in gifts from the Saudis in 2014, including a set of wristwatches valued at more than $43,000 and a diamond and emerald jewelry set for first lady Michelle Obama valued at around $560,000. You wouldn’t know about the thousands and thousands of dollars in gifts the Clintons received, some of which they reportedly absconded with when they left the White House. You wouldn’t know that Ronald Reagan was gifted an actual baby elephant in 1984 by Sri Lanka’s president. You wouldn’t know that John F. Kennedy was given, among many other things, a chair made of hand-carved 400-year-old mahogany taken from a Santo Domingo castle by the Dominican Republic’s Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, while Jackie Kennedy was given a horse by the governor of Pakistan.

As for the AP, why not add at least one line noting the history for foreign leaders showering presidents with gifts? USA Today had no problem doing it.


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