April 3 // Mar 26, 2017
So did we invoice them or not??
What’s 13, 233 - 507? Did you answer 12,726?
How about the difference between 57,000 and 507? Is it 56, 493?
Wrong, both times. It equals the media's seeming determination to foment distrust, discord and polarization not only between Americans but between us and the rest of the world. The latest case: The outrage over the NATO “invoice” President Trump presented to German Chancellor Angela Merkel during her visit to Washington two weeks ago.
Let’s start here, with this story from The Hill: Trump handed $300 billion-plus NATO 'invoice' to German chancellor: report
This story, (shared 13, 233 times), was reporting on a story that appeared in The London Times and in The Independent UK (that latter's story shared 57,000 times). The President has been critical of NATO countries and made it clear to Chancellor Merkel that while the United States will continue to be a stalwart member of NATO, every member country needs to contribute fairly to the organization. As reported in The Times, “He wants them to honour a commitment made in 2014 to invest 2% of their GDP in defence — a target met at present only by the US, Britain, Estonia, Greece and Poland.” Three years later, Two Weeks Ago News gets the feeling that the President believes it’s time for everyone to settle up on past debts, including Germany.
Tallying the total owed for the past twelve years (Merkel’s term as Chancellor), plus interest, the bill came to $377 billion. Will that be cash, check or credit card?
According to The Times, “Sources in Washington confirmed that a demand had been made. The White House denied that Trump presented an actual piece of paper.”
The Treasury and State Departments seemingly have no record of the invoice. According to The London Times, the White House staff created it. You can do a lot of fun things in Microsoft Publisher. It probably looks pretty legit!
Here’s the weirdest part of this report. A German Minister called this an act of intimidation but said the chancellor “took it calmly” and remained unprovoked by it. Impressive, because that’s a lot of money!
But no wonder she was calm. The White House denied creating or giving out such an invoice. Later in the very same “Hill” article, a spokesman for the German government denied getting it. For anyone keeping track, between The Hill and The Independent UK, this story has now been shared more than 70,000 times.
And here is part two….which is the new journalism:
According to Politico, “Reports that President Trump had presented the federal chancellor with a kind of bill with a concrete billion sum are not true,” spokesman Steffen Seibert said at a press conference.
This story was shared 507 times.
And what about The Hill, where we read the first story? How did they respond to the denials that surfaced about the invoice? They ran this, on March 27: German government denies receiving NATO invoices from Trump. The Hill cited Politico.eu as its source.
This last story was shared – wait for it – 32 times.
So let’s sum up:
President Trump presented an invoice for almost $4 billion dollars to German Chancellor Angela Merkel during her state visit to Washington, D.C. Story shared: 70,000+ times.
President Trump did not present an invoice for almost $4 billion dollars to German Chancellor Angela Merkel during her state visit to Washington, D.C. Story shared: 32 times.
Look, we don’t have a point of view about the news. Isn’t that the point of news? It doesn’t have a point of view? It’s tiresome and irritating to believe – even from time to time – that what we’re reading may not be the complete story; that it may have a perspective; that it may be not have been rigorously fact-checked and sourced before publication. This is not a right / left; Democrat / Republican thing. It’s a truth thing. That’s pretty much the beginning and end of what we expect to read or hear in the news.
And why we'll continue to try to make sense of all the outrage here at Two Weeks Ago News. For our own sanity, if nothing else. But if we offer even a modicum of comfort to you, we're glad to be of service.