In this time of rampant Trump Derangement Syndrome saturating formerly credible news outlets, it’s become the norm to expect the media to lie intentionally about President Trump.

While it does not appear that the Wall Street Journal was lying intentionally, it has become clear that they (willfully?) misheard a quote from the president and then ran with its implications in a full article.

In “Donald Trump Signals Openness to North Korea Diplomacy in Interview: President cites a positive relationship with nation’s leader; also accuses Steve Bannon of betrayal,” the WSJ reports:

President Donald Trump said he believes he has developed a positive relationship with North Korea’s leader despite their mutual public insults, suggesting he is open to diplomacy after months of escalating tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear-weapons program.

“I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un, ” Mr. Trump said in an interview Thursday with The Wall Street Journal. “I have relationships with people. I think you people are surprised.”

Asked if he has spoken with Mr. Kim, Mr. Trump said: “I don’t want to comment on it. I’m not saying I have or haven’t. I just don’t want to comment.”

This is a complete misrepresentation of what the president said.  Trump did not boast that “he believes he has developed a positive relationship with North Korea’s leader despite their mutual public insults.”

The implication here is that Trump’s “belief” in this positive relationship defies public evidence to the contrary (“mutual public insults”).  In short, according to this reading, the president is lying at best and living in a fantasy world at worst.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders released the audio of this portion of the interview, pointing out that the president said “I’d probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un” not ““I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un.”

Personally, I would prefer to have more context from the White House, but even in this brief clip, it’s clear that the president said “I’d probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un.”

Not only is it easily heard, but Trump’s inflection changes, becoming more upbeat and optimistic, (and, to my ear) almost wistful.  This change in tone also indicates that he’s not stating a present fact but is expressing either hope for the future or a desire for things to have worked out differently between the two world leaders.

USA Today reports:

Trump says he said “I’d” — a contraction for “would” — that changes the meaning of what he said. In the Wall Street Journal version, Trump and Kim are friendly. In Trump’s version, such a relationship might be possible under some other circumstance.

The difference is no small matter. Based on its version of Trump’s quote, the Journal reported that “Trump said he believes he has developed a positive relationship with North Korea’s leader despite their mutual public insults, suggesting he is open to diplomacy after months of escalating tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear-weapons program.”

Although the White House did not provide a fuller recording, the Wall Street Journal has posted its transcript of the interview.  The President asserts that China is “helping us a lot with North Korea,” indicating quite clearly that he does not consider his present relationship with Kim Jong Un as “very good.”

Mr. Trump: . . . . We are—when I campaigned I said we’ll either renegotiate Nafta or I’ll terminate it.

And nothing’s changed, I have fulfilled many of my campaign promises. One of the promises that you know is being very seriously negotiated right now is the wall and the wall will happen. And if you look—point, after point, after point—now we’ve had some turns. You always have to have flexibility. As an example, we’ve been much tougher on China, but not nearly as tough as I would be, but they are helping us a lot with North Korea.

And you see in North Korea what’s happening with North Korea all of a sudden. China’s been helping us a lot, so you can veer a little bit differently, but for the most part everything I’ve said I’ve done.

. . . .  WSJ: And you mentioned the link between China and North Korea. We talked about that a little bit the last time we were in here.

Mr. Trump: Right.

WSJ: Is that—does that link still exist for you? Do you feel like China’s been helpful enough…

(CROSSTALK)

Mr. Trump: Not helpful enough, but they’ve been very helpful. Let’s put it this way, they’ve done more for me than they ever have for any American president. They still haven’t done enough. But they’ve done more for me than they have, by far, for any—I have a very good relationship with President Xi. I like him. He likes me. We have a great chemistry together. He’s—China has done far more for us than they ever have for any American president. With that being said, it’s not enough. They have to do more.

The transcript reveals that the interviewer misheard Trump at the time of the interview.  His follow-up question/s support this:

WSJ: Just to be clear, you haven’t spoken to the North Korean leader, I mean when you say a relationship with Korea—

Mr. Trump: I don’t want to comment on it—I don’t want to comment, I’m not saying I have or I haven’t. But I just don’t—

WSJ: Some people would see your tweets, which are sometimes combative towards Kim Jong Un…

Mr. Trump: Sure, you see that a lot with me and then all of a sudden somebody’s my best friend. I could give you 20 examples. You give me 30. I’m a very flexible person.

The president, however, was not, as the WSJ interviewer appears to assume, blustering about a clearly non-existent positive relationship with North Korea.

Despite being shut down (“I don’t want to comment on it”) and Trump’s repeated assertion that China is the key to a better relationship with North Korea, the WSJ interviewer pursued his own sense that he was “catching” the president in an obvious lie.

Trump was not amused.

The WSJ has responded by releasing their own recording and a statement that they “stand by what it reported.”  Listen (don’t read the transcript as it plays because the intent here is to make you hear what you read):

Trump is being accused of “attacking” the WSJ, but after eight years of President Bush refusing to push back against the media, it’s refreshing to see a Republican president refuse to let the media get away with misleading quotes.