Published November 8, 2018
US President Donald Trump has received widespread criticism for once again attacking a reporter doing their job, but he can rest assured he has at least once staunch ally in Iceland: former Central Bank chair and current co-editor of Morgunblaðið Davíð Oddsson.
The world witnessed as CNN’s Jim Acosta attempted last Wednesday to address Trump’s decidedly racist messaging about asylum seekers, only for the President to call him a “rude, terrible person” and subsequently strip him of his White House press credentials. Criticism against Trump, who has repeatedly called the press “the enemy of the people”, has been practically unanimous amongst the world’s journals of record, but Morgunblaðið has taken a supportive stance.
The support, as Fréttablaðið reports, came in the form of an anonymous op-ed that Morgunblaðið ran. Although lacking a byline, these columns are generally understood to be written by Davíð.
In the column, Davíð criticised the media at large for “hammering President Trump mercilessly” as a sort of revenge for the media’s “owners and editors waking up to the bad dream that their candidate, Hilary Clinton, lost against him”. He also turned his criticisms against the Icelandic media; in particular, Icelandic public broadcasting network RÚV, for giving what Davíð considered biased coverage of the presidential election results as they were unfolding.
Members of the Icelandic press have expressed confusion and disgust at Davíð’s defence of Trump, perhaps best summed up by Kjarninn editor Þórður Snær Júlíusson, who tweeted: “The editor of the largest newspaper, which is in weekly free distribution today, believes that the mainstream media are perpetrators against Trump the victim, who has begun blocking media outlets that ask difficult questions, lies many times a day and calls the media the enemy of the people.”
Gísli Marteinn Baldursson, a media personality and former Reykjavík councilperson for the Independence Party, from which Davíð hails, was also shocked by the column, saying, “It’s unlike anything else that Morgunblaðið should support [Trump] with so much admiration, especially in his fight against a healthy media that asks difficult questions. It is specifically dangerous to democracy.”