In an extraordinary moment on Tuesday, President Trump issued a daring warning to the radical North Korean regime. “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,” Trump told the cameras with his arms crossed. And as would be expected, Trump’s statement dominated the day. And during the evening broadcasts of the Big Three Networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC), they were all visibly distressed and criticized the comment. “It is the most fiery, overtly military threat President Trump has ever launched at North Korea, a chilling warning in response Kim Jong-un's threats to the U.S.,” exclaimed ABC Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz near the top of World News Tonight. “This dramatic escalation of rhetoric, all the more alarming given the latest extraordinary intelligence assessments of North Korea's nuclear capabilities,” she added before finally delving into the new threat from North Korea.
On NBC Nightly News, Anchor Lester Holt cranked the fearmongering up as he started the program by saying: “The crisis with North Korea reached an unsettling new level today with news of a possible major breakthrough in Kim Jong-un's nuclear weapons capability, and the most provocative statement yet from President Trump, who met North Korea's recent verbal threats with this chilling threat of his own…” -- He also described the scene as “the President painting a dark and ominous image.” Meanwhile, the full report on the matter was delivered by the network’s Andrea Mitchell. And while she kept the report itself focused on North Korea, she wrapped it up with the criticism Trump had received. “Democrat Dianne Feinstein calling them bombastic and recommending diplomacy,” she noted. “Republican John McCain saying he can't think of any other president who would have used that kind of rhetoric.”
But that’s not true. Because according to CBS Evening News, an eerily similar statement was uttered once before by a president. CBS White House Correspondent Major Garrett started off his report by providing some historical context by noting how “President Trump's rhetoric sounded very much like a speech Harry Truman gave after the first U.S. atomic bomb strike at Hiroshima.” Garrett then played this clip of President Truman addressing the nation: “If they do not now accept our terms, they may expect a rain of ruin from the air the like of which has never been seen on this Earth. Behind this air attack will follow sea and land forces in such numbers and power as they have not yet seen.” The CBS reporter also mentioned how Congressman Darrell Issa commented that the situation was the “greatest crisis … undoubtedly since the Cuban Missile Crisis.”
But despite the effort to provide the historical context, CBS highlighted a poll they released on Tuesday claiming people didn’t trust Trump to handle North Korea. “Only 35 percent of Americans told us they are confident about that. 61 percent said they are uneasy,” asserted Anchor Anthony Mason. ABC’s Martha Raddatz also hyped the CBS poll. But the way they’re sowing fear during this crucial and uncertain time does not help the people feel confident in the situation. Because you know you have a hyperbole problem when CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin is telling you to calm down.