Fountain and tulips at The White House, Washington DC, Medioimages/Photodisc/ThinkstockPhotos

Ag media and Trump's love-hate press relations

For all his bluster, I think President Trump actually loves the media. But he could work better with media.

So, does this make me the Fake News Media, or an “enemy of the people”? A rancher sent me an e-mail last week complaining about my recent column, “Did Mexico save Trump’s bacon on NAFTA?”

My point was that Mexico, in announcing in late August that it had made a bilateral trade agreement with the U.S., may have done President Donald Trump a favor by giving him leverage to use with Canada, as well as other countries.

Mexico could have played hard-to-get until after the U.S. midterm elections, when the makeup of the new Congress was known and could factor into the negotiations. Some Canadian TV pundits urged Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to move slowly, figuring that Trump’s hand would be weakened if the Democrats captured one or both houses of Congress.

But Mexico has elected to play nicely, not only with trade but also more recently with substantive efforts to help resolve issues with the caravan of Central Americans making its way to the southern U.S. border.

I suggested in my earlier column that Trump may owe Mexico a favor, and could perhaps repay it with an immigration reform package that allowed more would-be farmworkers into the country.

My rancher reader didn’t agree with my assessment. “Is everything you write so blatantly prejudiced against President Trump?” the reader’s e-mail began. “‘Mexico saves Trump’s bacon.’ How about PRESIDENT Trump finally having the common sense to address our horrid foreign trade agreements.” Later on, the rancher says, “About time we get someone who will stand up for OUR country for a change, and who says it how it really is.”

All of this may be true. But Mexico’s leaders could have made things more difficult just by waiting, as China is apparently doing. They didn’t, and I believe they probably had a reason not to, which may become apparent in the coming weeks and months.

Now, at this point many journalists would tell me, “Welcome to the club.” There’s been an almost universal revulsion within the industry toward the president’s media-bashing tweets and remarks, and as the Associated Press recently reported, even journalists with local outlets have encountered hostility from some of Trump’s supporters.

I have a hunch that for all of his bluster, Trump actually loves the media. He gives more one-on-one interviews and impromptu pressers than any other president has in my lifetime, and I don’t think he’d do that if he actually thought these outlets were a detriment to the country.

But, he and his administration could definitely make better use of media, and particularly niche outlets like those that cover agriculture. Recently Farm Press Senior Content Director Ron Smith and other ag reporters were shut out of a press conference with Vice President Mike Pence after D.C. press folks took up the prime spots.

We have no political ax to grind, one way of the other. Working with us might improve readers’ trust — in them as well as in us.

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