FILE – This Jan. 17, 2001 file photo shows pedestrians entering CNN Center, the headquarters for CNN, in downtown Atlanta. (AP Photo/Ric Feld, File)
President Trump’s visit to India this week is understandably a big deal to report on, but some reporters at CNN decided to take a detour from serious news reporting on Sunday to inform readers and viewers that Trump, who like most Americans typically dines on steak, meatloaf, and other meat-related main courses, was “bracing” for a beefless menu while on his overseas trip.
Here’s how the story was framed on social media:
President Trump — whose diet is often a rotation of steaks, burgers and meatloaf — faces a potential shock as he prepares to travel to India, where Hindus are the majority and cows are revered as sacred. https://t.co/jMfBqB2OV8
— CNN (@CNN) February 23, 2020
No less than three – count ’em – three CNN journalists filed the report:
The President, whose diet is often a rotation of steaks, burgers and meatloaf, faces a potential shock as he prepares to travel to three Indian cities this week. His trip includes stops in Gujarat state, Agra and Delhi, where Hindus are the majority and cows are revered as sacred. In some neighborhoods, meat eating is so taboo that it’s not done in public.
Trump’s host, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has gone out of his way to generate an elaborate reception for the President, including hosting a massive rally in the world’s largest cricket stadium and arranging a tour of the Taj Mahal (the real one, not the namesake Atlantic City casino that Trump once owned).
He’s facing a “potential shock”, y’all. Oh dear. And thank you so much, CNN, for letting people know that the Taj Mahal the President and First Lady Melania will be touring is “the real one”, because people reading the article wouldn’t have otherwise known that in spite of how often India and Prime Minister Modi are mentioned in the piece.
Moving along, after CNN noted that “Modi is a devoted vegetarian”, we were also alerted to the fact that Trump “once had steak twice in a day while abroad.” Not only that, but anonymous sources told CNN they had “never” seen the President “eat a vegetable.” Gasp!:
People familiar with the trip’s planning cautioned that menus would likely only be finalized at the last minute. And Trump’s aides have been known to intervene to ensure Trump’s tastes are catered to when he’s on the road (he once had steak twice in a day while abroad.)
A person close to the President who has dined with him on several occasions said Trump has salad with a meal every now and then — but other than that, “I have never seen him eat a vegetable.”
This story is reminiscent of the bizarre report CNN filed on how President Trump was dining on meatloaf and ice cream when he found out about the successful U.S. strike against Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Iraq back in December.
The “news network” also did a live news report in 2017 on Trump’s “two scoop” ice cream eating habits.
Beyond the ridiculousness of these types of stories actually being considered “news” is how often key aspects of them can be refuted, like this gentleman did:
It took less then a minute to find 5 Billion pounds of beef was consumed in India last year
— Grumpy Old Vet (@GrumpyOldVet1) February 24, 2020
It’s true. In fact, most Indians are meat-eaters:
If you go by three large-scale government surveys, 23%-37% of Indians are estimated to be vegetarian. By itself this is nothing remarkably revelatory.
But new research by US-based anthropologist Balmurli Natrajan and India-based economist Suraj Jacob, points to a heap of evidence that even these are inflated estimations because of “cultural and political pressures”. So people under-report eating meat – particularly beef – and over-report eating vegetarian food.
Taking all this into account, say the researchers, only about 20% of Indians are actually vegetarian – much lower than common claims and stereotypes suggest.
Hindus, who make up 80% of the Indian population, are major meat-eaters. Even only a third of the privileged, upper-caste Indians are vegetarian.
Not only that, but if Trump wants to eat a burger or a steak, he’ll get to do that – even if it’s not served at official functions in India. He’s POTUS, after all. And it sounds like there are a lot of options:
The 25 Best Burgers In Indiahttps://t.co/FNvbT6MIIT
— Samuel Culper 722 (@politiwars) February 23, 2020