First, the facts.
Here’s what happened…
- After introductory music, Polish President Andrzej Duda shook President Trump’s outstretched hand. Trump offered the handshake, and placed his left hand on Duda’s back, as is his custom when it’s not awkward.
- Polish First Lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda stood aside while the two leaders shook hands, watching the exchange.
- After that handshake, Kornhauser-Duda looked up and strode across to Melania Trump, ignoring President Trump’s outstretched hand. He appeared confused.
- The Polish First Lady shook the American First Lady’s hand, exchanging a quick word with her.
- Kornhauser-Duda then turned to President Trump, faced him straight on, and shook his hand with a head nod.
- Polish President Duda then reached across and shook Melania’s hand.
Second, the media.
- Mediaite reported the exchange as a “snub.”
- The Washington Post reported the exchange as Kornhauser-Duda “appeared to pass over” Trump’s offer of a handshake.
- The Right Scoop reported New York Daily News’ version as “FAKE NEWS”
- Allahpundit tweeted WaPo’s video with the comment that it “debunks its own headline.”
WaPo video debunks its own headline https://t.co/ROhod2SRJy
— Allahpundit (@allahpundit) July 6, 2017
Now, the truth.
I did what the Washington Post, with their massive reportorial resources and huge speed-dial list, should have done. I contacted someone I knew who once worked as a protocol officer. Those are the people responsible for setting up these well-planned and staged events.
Protocol people deal with the minutiae of who sits/stands where, who speaks, who walks, who shakes who’s hands, and in what order.
- The host leads on protocol. That means the Polish were in control here for this event. It’s their country.
- Normally, the First Lady of the host country would greet and receive the visiting First Lady as principals greet.
- Trump initiated the handshake with his host. These things are not so restrictive as to count half-seconds, but the president likes to be in control. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks (especially that old dog).
- Kornhauser-Duda did the right thing in greeting Melania first. Whether Trump’s hand was extended or not is irrelevant to the protocol here.
- If anything, Trump’s confusion may have been that he doesn’t know or care about protocol. He likes to be the one in control of every meeting, everywhere, every time. It’s his way.
And maybe some required reading for President Trump is in order regarding the general rules of handshake etiquette. He typically violates four out of the seven rules in this reference my source on protocol provided.
Fact check: False.
it was not a snub, or a “pass over.” It was just protocol. Trump isn’t a follower of protocol. But this story will probably have more legs than it deserves. Don’t believe the spin.