A few things in common
When US President Donald Trump visits Manila next month to attend the Asean-East Asia Summit, it would be interesting to find out the reaction of the American people, especially the US media.
After their phone conversation last April 29, the US media assailed Trump for being cozy with President Duterte, particularly when he invited the latter to visit Washington anytime.
It would also be interesting to compare these two leaders who have a few things in common. Both are known to speak their mind and even to become ballistic when their views are contradicted by others. Both are also prone to use cuss words to emphasize their points.
Mr. Duterte is now known internationally for publicly calling then President Barack Obama the equivalent of a “son of a whore” for claiming that his war on drugs has resulted in human rights violations in the Philippines. Later when Obama snubbed him at the summit with Asean leaders in Vientiane in September 2016, he said the American president could “go to hell.”
Trump has his own list of verbal slurs. Recently, after Hurricane “Maria” devastated Puerto Rico, he tagged those questioning his administration’s policy in rebuilding the US territory as “politically motivated ingrates.”
Last Sept. 23 at a rally in Alabama, he was cheered widely by some 10,000 people when he attacked North Korea, Hillary Clinton, and the National Football League (NFL). He received his biggest applause when he assailed any “son of a bitch” of the NFL who refused to stand while the American national anthem was being sung. “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now… He is fired’,” he told the cheering crowd.
In that rally, Trump talked for about an hour and a half. When Mr. Duterte speaks before an audience, especially his hometown crowd of Davaoeños, he rambles on and cannot seem to end his speech.
Both leaders regularly lash out at the media, accusing newspapers as well as broadcast networks of being used by their respective political opponents.
Since Day One of his presidency, Trump has been at odds with major media outlets in the United States. It was he who popularized the term “fake news,” referring to the critical reports about him and his administration in the Washington media.
He said that if he had “relied on” major cable news network and print outlets, such as CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, the Washington Post and New York Times, he would have had “zero chance of winning the White House.”
But there is one area in which the two leaders starkly differ: their popularity and performance ratings.
Despite, or because of, his bloody war on drugs, Mr. Duterte continues to enjoy high approval ratings among Filipinos. In the latest Pulse Asia survey, he recorded a high trust rating of 81 percent.
In contrast, Trump has the lowest approval rating among recent US presidents. After his 100th day in office, a Gallup poll showed that just 40 percent of Americans approved of the way he was handling his job, as against 55 percent who disapproved.
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Alito L. Malinao is a former news editor of the Manila Standard. He teaches journalism at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila and is the author of the book “Journalism for Filipinos.”
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