In 2017 in Manila, then-President Donald Trump talked up his “great relationship” with Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippine strongman. Reporters present pressed Trump on whether he had pressed Duterte on his human rights violations, such as large-scale extrajudicial killings of thousands. Duterte brushed them off – and referred to journalists as “the spies” at the meeting. Trump chuckled.
In 2019, Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin commiserated over a coterie of journalists. “Get rid of them. Fake news is a great term, isn’t it? You don’t have this problem in Russia but we do,” said the American president. To which Putin responded, in English: “We also have. It’s the same.”