CBS Tries Tying Trump to Military Coup in Southeast Asia


Another month, another coup attempt being tied to former President Donald Trump.

This one was an actual coup, mind you. After taking a beating in free and fair elections, the rulers of the military junta in Myanmar decided they didn’t much like elections and re-installed themselves as rulers.

Aung San Suu Kyi, the civilian leader of the country, was taken into custody after her National League for Democracy won 396 out of 476 parliamentary seats in the country’s second civilian election, according to The Wall Street Journal. The military-backed party won only 33 seats.

The situation in Myanmar is a complicated one, one where a fragile democracy is heavily qualified by the fact it’s only allowed to exist by the grace of the country’s military, the Tatmadaw. There’s also the specter of alleged genocide perpetrated against the Rohingya, a largely Muslim ethnic group, as well as other ethnic groups in the country.

According to The Guardian, a U.K.-based news outlet, a 2018 United Nations report found the military was “killing indiscriminately, gang-raping women, assaulting children and burning entire villages” in several provinces.

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Suu Kyi, who’s defended the military’s actions by claiming those targeted were “terrorists,” has seen her legacy as a human rights champion muddied due to her silence.

It’s a topic close to my heart, as my wife has worked with Burmese refugees, many of whom have been relocated to the United States. It would be nigh impossible for me to convey what I think are the pertinent facts regarding the coup and what it’s effects will be. If I had to relay them to you in a short news piece, however, the last thing I’d endeavor to impart to you would be to tie the coup to former President Donald Trump.

CBS News wouldn’t agree with my approach. Instead, CBS wants to make sure you know that the coup attempt is a lot like former President Donald Trump’s claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election.

Here’s the report on the coup on Monday’s “CBS Evening News.” See if you can spot the glaring problem:

“The military staged a coup arresting top elected officials. Including Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. It marked a dramatic backslide from the southeast [Asian] nation’s move to democracy,” Norah O’Donnell said before a report from correspondent Ramy Inocencio in Beijing.

And here we go with Trump: “Echoing the claims made by former President Trump about fraud in the U.S. election, the military in Myanmar claimed massive election fraud in last November’s parliamentary polls,” Inocencio said. “Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won a landslide, the election commission says fraud did not happen.”

“Now detained as she was for 15 years under house arrest, the 75-year-old Aung San Suu Kyi has called on the people to protest against a U-turn back to dictatorship,” he noted at the end.

The idea that the Tatmadaw was “echoing” Trump in any way is prima facie farcical. No matter what the left claims about the Trump presidency, Americans aren’t living in a military junta taking baby steps toward democracy.

Furthermore, it’s interesting that CBS didn’t even mention Suu Kyi’s problematic appeasement of the military. Nor did the report mention that under Myanmar’s “democracy,” two Reuters journalists were sentenced in September 2018 to seven years in prison for reporting on the atrocities. (They were  freed in a presidential pardon in May 2019.)

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As the Media Research Center pointed out, all three major broadcast networks reported on the coup on their nightly news broadcasts, but only one tried tying it to Trump.

Take NBC News’ Richard Engel’s report, which focused more on the conflicted political situation in the Southeast Asian country: “Suu Kyi had long fallen from grace, accused of staying silent at what’s often called the genocide against Myanmar’s Rohingya people,” he said, according to MRC.

“Suu Kyi made a deal with the military. And in the process, lost her credibility because of atrocities she refused to recognize.”

Do you think the Capitol riot was similar to the coup in Myanmar?

Furthermore, it would be impossible for any right-thinking person to believe the two situations were similar. The most salient difference, of course, is that the military didn’t stage a coup and put the country under a state of national emergency for a year, claiming false voters stole the election. That’s what happened in Myanmar. In the United States, we had a horrific incursion in the hallowed halls of Congress.

Yes, I know: To many in the media, the Capitol incursion is considered roughly equivalent to the Tatmadaw seizing power in Myanmar, because anything involving Donald Trump must be The Worst Thing Ever. Look at the words they use: Coup! Insurrection! An attempt to overthrow the election!

For all of the planning that armed thugs and malevolent, deranged conspiracy theorists seem to have put into the incursion, no one can rightly call it a threat to the American Republic. Meanwhile, in Myanmar, there was barely a patina of democracy before the military came in and stripped it.

Conflating the two situations evinces a fundamental misunderstanding of the coup d’etat in Myanmar as well as the situation in the United States. In the case of CBS News, this seems wholly deliberate.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture