President Trump arrives at a June 27 rally in Fargo, N.D., to support Rep. Kevin Cramer’s (R-N.D.) run for Senate. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
Media critic

President Trump should be pleased. Someone out there is limiting criticism of his work — banning it, in fact. And it’s not Sean Hannity or any of his fellow commentators at Fox News.

It is the Chinese government, of all things. Long before he even declared his presidential campaign, Trump has been bashing China for voracious trading policies, a shtick that has carried over into his time at the White House. His administration has imposed levies on $34 billion in Chinese goods and just recently threatened another round of pain, this time for an outlined $200 billion in goods including fish, chemicals and textiles. “They’re getting stronger, to a large extent, with a lot of the money they’ve made from having poor leadership in the U.S., because the U.S. leadership has allowed them to get away with murder,” Trump said of China in early 2018.

As reported by Reuters, Beijing doesn’t want to inflame matters. So it is “limiting open commentary and banning attacks on U.S. President Donald Trump,” note reporters John Ruwitch and Michael Martina. More from the report:

Beijing has issued unusually strict rules limiting coverage of the trade war because of worries that unrestrained reporting could spark instability or roil its already jittery financial markets, according to sources within Chinese state media.

“When exposing and criticizing American words and actions, be careful not to link it to Trump and instead to aim it at the U.S. government,” said a memo based on a set of directives issued verbally by government officials that was circulated to reporters at a state-run news outlet and seen by Reuters.

Media outlets must help “stabilize the economy, growth, employment, stabilize foreign trade, investment, finance, stabilize the stock market, the foreign exchange market, the housing market, and basically stabilize the peoples’ thinking, hearts and expectations”, it said.

That’s one heck of a mission statement for news organizations. The implications of the guidance from central planning, however, are unmistakable: Rational reporting on Trump’s international trade posture in and of itself threatens the stability of the international economy. So keep quiet.

In free societies, meanwhile, media organizations binge on Trump’s ad hoc and ill-informed remarks and actions on trade and other topics. The routine result is that markets frequently end up roiling.