If there’s anything that Donald Trump hates more than low ratings, it’s any form of accountability. There are no government agencies that have internal investigation units with whom Trump has not clashed because he didn’t like their findings in some probe or another. From special counsels to inspectors general, Trump has no time for anyone who tries to find out the truth about anything he does.
But a new report in the Washington Post on Friday details a version of that kind of showdown between Trump and a watchdog, and it’s not just the most petty example you can think of — it’s actually the very definition of the “cancel culture” that Trump and his family constantly decry on social media.
The internal report from the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General tells the story of a Finnish journalist who was selected to receive an “International Women of Courage Award” from the State Department, only to have it later rescinded as her social media posts were combed over and negative comments about Donald Trump were discovered.
Jessikka Aro had been covering Russian troll farms as far back as 2014 by the time she was selected for the award. But when officials went to book her flight to come to accept the honor, her posts from 2018 were discovered, including one that said “Trump constantly labels journalists as ‘enemy’ and ‘fake news’,” and another where she seemed happy about the fact that Trump and Putin would be meeting in Helsinki, where “Finnish people can protest them both. Sweet.”
Apparently, the officials were concerned that during the awards ceremony, the media might highlight those posts and amplify them, so they decided to rescind the award. That is not, however, what they made into the official story. In their public statement, the State Department said that Aro had been “incorrectly notified” that she was being given the award, saying “This was an error. This was a mistake.”
But the Inspector General’s report shows that it was not a mistake, and she was listed as the recipient of the award on an official memo approved by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo himself. In fact, the report went on to say that “Every person OIG interviewed in connection with this matter acknowledged” that if her faintly anti-Trump posts had never been discovered, “Ms. Aro would have received the IWOC Award.”
That sure sounds like Cancel Culture™ to me.