Will Trump stand up for free press in Singapore?
Reporters express concerns about the historic summit between the president and a repressive dictator in a host country known for censorship.
06/06/2018 04:04 AM EDT
When President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore, it will mark the coming together of perhaps the world’s most sealed-off and press-hostile autocrat with a president who frequently rages against the media, all in a country known for its repressive views on free speech.
Needless to say, journalists are concerned over what access will be granted at the historic meeting.
“These things are tightly scripted; they keep the press at arm's length,” said Washington Post reporter John Hudson, who was in Singapore last week covering the meetings between U.S. and North Korean officials to plan the summit. From the American side, Hudson said he expected the summit would be similar to other foreign trips by the president. “The X-factor,” he added, “of course is going to be North Korea.”
Another X-factor may be the host country. Last Wednesday, Hudson was chased out of a Singapore hotel by security guards after attempting to photograph and interview the officials who were meeting there. In his reporting so far, he said, he has not found any of the three countries particularly helpful.
“For these logistics meetings, there was zero support from any of the U.S., North Korean or Singaporean governments to provide additional access to the press,” Hudson said. He added, though, that he was unsure what that would mean for next week’s planned summit.
Jean H. Lee, a former Associated Press bureau chief in Pyongyang and a North Korea expert at the Wilson Center, put it this way: “It’s going to be a very interesting dance between the media and these two leaders who crave attention, but want to shape it and control it.”