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'Long on pageantry, short on substance': How US media covered Donald Trump in India

Many publications noted the president 'stumbled over' pronunciations, and that the meeting is unlikely to yield major bilateral agreements.

By NL Team

Published on :

Donald Trump's in India, and the Indian media has been on his tail to bring audiences the latest updates as he moved from Ahmedabad to Agra and now to Delhi. But what of our media brethren in the US?

The New York Times described the Namaste Trump event at Motera stadium, Ahmedabad, as "an unabashed homage" to Donald Trump. The piece said Trump "betrayed unfamiliarity" with the country and "stumbled over several pronunciations".

'Long on pageantry, short on substance': How US media covered Donald Trump in India

NYT was less than impressed with the crowd swelling the stadium, noting: "And although Mr. Trump said with satisfaction that 125,000 people had turned out to see him, more than one third of the crowd appeared to leave before the end of his nearly 30-minute remarks, and another third was gone by the time Mr. Modi spoke after him."

The piece also pointed out that Trump made "no mention of a growing backlash against what critics call Mr. Modi’s anti-Muslim Hindu nationalism".

NYT referenced the citizenship law protests in India, including yesterday's violence in Northeast Delhi, and the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir's special status. "Mr. Trump has shown little public concern for actions by Mr. Modi that have drawn international condemnation..."

Washington Post ran live updates of Trump's visit, with quotes and photos. The blog covered the highlights of Day 1, saying: "Trump’s brief visit will be long on pageantry and symbolism but relatively short on substance."

'Long on pageantry, short on substance': How US media covered Donald Trump in India

Washington Post published a piece dated today by Rana Ayyub which said the 36-hour tour "was designed to bolster the image of the two men, not improve the ties between the two nations".

'Long on pageantry, short on substance': How US media covered Donald Trump in India

Ayyub wrote: "Today, Trump’s visit is playing right into the hands of Modi’s divisive Hindu nationalist rhetoric and policies."

Another piece in the Post covered Trump's speech at the Namaste Trump event. "Trump and Modi celebrated their warm personal bond and shared nationalist political philosophy while talking up economic and military cooperation that is a bulwark to China. Trump said a long-promised trade deal with India is in sight, but he gave no date for its completion."

'Long on pageantry, short on substance': How US media covered Donald Trump in India

CNN said Trump "felt the love" in India. "And while a major trade agreement seems unlikely on this trip, Trump was more than happy to bask in the type of adulation that doesn't typically follow him when he travels abroad. It was all an elaborate display meant to illustrate just how close Trump and Modi are, or at least how close they want to world to believe they are."

Wall Street Journal said Trump received a "rock-star welcome", "a reprise of a raucous event the pair staged in the U.S. last year".

'Long on pageantry, short on substance': How US media covered Donald Trump in India

Less flatteringly, WSJ published an op-ed by Tunku Varadarajan. "Yet in India on Monday he made a speech before 110,000 people that was uncharacteristic. Not only was there nothing in it for his detractors to pounce on, but he also took an opportunity to defend liberal values."

'Long on pageantry, short on substance': How US media covered Donald Trump in India

Fox News lovingly said Trump "drew the crowd of a lifetime" on his maiden trip to India. Its piece added this titbit: "Later in his visit, the president and first lady toured the site of the Taj Mahal. The famous Indian landmark had served as the inspiration for a hotel and casino Trump once owned in Atlantic City, N.J."

Newsday's piece was sourced from Associated Press and headlined "Trump's India visit prioritizes pageantry over policy". "In his first hours on the subcontinent, Trump received the adulatory reception that has eluded him on many foreign trips."

The same piece was published in the San Francisco Chronicle.

It continued: "A battery of carefully chosen Modi loyalists and workers from his Bharatiya Janata Party lined the road to accord the president a grand welcome. Tens of thousands of police officers were on hand to keep security tight and a new wall was erected in front of a slum, apparently to hide it from presidential passersby."

LA Times said drily that the Namaste Trump event alone was "enough to entice the president to fly to India for the state visit, even though the two days of meetings between Trump and Modi are unlikely to yield any major bilateral agreements".

'Long on pageantry, short on substance': How US media covered Donald Trump in India

It said Trump "did not explicitly acknowledge the rise in anti-Muslim violence that has accompanied Modi’s rise to power or his Hindu nationalist government’s efforts to marginalize the country’s 200 million Muslims".

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