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Triumph of the shill

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Reporters crowded into a Singapore auditorium Tuesday, expecting President Trump to walk out and announce the results of his historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Suddenly, two huge screens on either side of the empty podium came to life. Soaring music boomed over the speakers, and the reporters were bombarded with a montage portraying North Korea as some sort of paradise.

Golden sunrises. Gleaming skylines and high-speed trains. Children skipping through Kim Il Sung square in Pyongyang, North Korean flags waving between images of Egyptian pyramids, the Taj Mahal and the Lincoln Memorial.

In a split-screen shot, Kim Jong Un waved to an adoring crowd while President Trump stood beside him with his thumb in the air. The pair appeared over and over again, like running mates in a campaign video.

The film went on like this for several minutes, with brief interludes of missiles, soldiers and warships interrupting the fanfare. Some journalists, unable to understand the Korean-language narration, assumed they were watching one of Pyongyang’s infamous propaganda films. “What country are we in?” asked a reporter from the filing center.

Andrew Beatty

@AndrewBeatty

They are playing a propaganda video before Trump presser. Not kidding. What is happening??!!

But then the video looped, playing this time in English. And then Trump walked onto the stage and explained that the film was not North Korean propaganda.

It had been made in America, by or on the orders of his White House, for the benefit of Kim.

“I hope you liked it,” Trump told the reporters. “I thought it was good. I thought it was interesting enough to show. … And I think he loved it.”

As the president explained it, the video was an elevator pitch — the sort of glitzy production that Trump might have once used to persuade an investor to finance a hotel and that he now hopes will persuade the leader of one of the most repressive regimes in the world to end nearly 70 years of international isolation and militant hostility to the United States.

The nearly five-minute movie even had its own Hollywood-style vanity logo: “A Destiny Pictures Production,” though a film company by the same name in Los Angeles denied any involvement in making it, and the White House has not yet responded to questions about it.

ETA: You’ve read the post, now see the Film Everyone Is Talking About.  (“Thanks” Patrick II)

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