U.S. President Donald Trump was wasting his time deriding the media over their coverage of his administration, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Friday, citing the example of British wartime leader Winston Churchill.
Trump has repeatedly described media criticism of him as “fake news” since taking office last month, labelling the media as the “opposition party.”
On Thursday he dismissed a growing controversy about ties between his allies and Russia as a “ruse” and a “scam” perpetrated by a hostile news media.
Turnbull, at a news conference with New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English in New Zealand, said the 45th American president should stop focusing on the media.
“A very great politician, Winston Churchill, once said that politicians complaining about the newspapers is like a sailor complaining about the sea. There is not much point. That is the media we live with and we have to get our message across and we thank you all in the media for your kind attention,” Turnbull said.
Turnbull is speaking from experience as he faces a constant stream of questions from domestic media about his leadership, with opinion polls showing the popularity of his centre-right government sinking to its lowest in more than a year.
Relations between the United States and Australia hit a low point this month when Trump said on Twitter that a planned refugee swap between the two nations was a “dumb deal.”
That followed a Washington Post report about an acrimonious telephone call between the two leaders that attracted headlines world-wide.
READ MORE: Donald Trump rips Australia’s PM over phone
“President Trump and I have had several calls now, we’ve had very constructive call. It was frank and forthright and it was very valuable,” Turnbull said.
With his promise to put “America First,” Trump has also scrapped or promised to re-negotiate trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the North American Free Trade Agreement since coming to office, but Turnbull warned against a more protectionist U.S. trade stance.
“Protectionism is not the ladder to get you out of the low growth track, it is the shovel to dig it deeper and deeper and deeper,” Turnbull said.
Australia is a staunch U.S. ally and is currently flying combat missions in Syria. It has also said it was open to stepping up its military commitment against the militant Islamic State group.
© 2017 Reuters