Washington: He came, he saw, he hugged and hugged again, but he couldn't conquer the Russia obsessed Yankee media. Narendra Modi's budding bromance with Donald Trump could not bloom on the idiot box.
The Indian Prime Minister's first marathon summit with POTUS was just a blip on the tube. And on the morrow, it could not make the front page of any mainstream daily from the West to East Coast.
To be sure, pundits and prophets from Washington Post to New York Times did pontificate on the 'TruModi bromance.' But only the conservative Washington Times carried a picture of Modi and the first couple on the front page.
No surprises there. For unlike Gandhi's three monkeys who saw no evil, heard no evil and said no evil, they have their eyes and ears for only one evil - Vladimir Putin and his ever lengthening shadow on American politics.
Foiled by Trump and Modi refusing to take the customary two questions from each side after their Rose Garden statements, the chatterati quickly switched to complaining and moaning about the lack of transparency in this White House.
A reporter anyway did lob a question at the retreating pair - not about India-US relations, but on the travails of "Trumpcare" to replace "Obamacare."
A CNN reporter said he wanted to ask Modi about the Supreme Court reviving Trump's "Muslim travel ban" as India has over a 100 million Muslim population.
He like other Trump baiters ignored the fact that the so-called ban only calls for a 90 day suspension of travel from six terror-prone countries in the Middle East identified as such by the previous Obama administration.
This on the day three CNN reporters and editors were forced to resign after retracting an anonymous sourced story suggesting a Senate team was probing a link between a Trump associate and a Russian investment fund executive.
"So they caught Fake News CNN cold," a gloating Trump tweeted. "But what about NBC, CBS & ABC? What about the failing @nytimes & @washingtonpost? They are all Fake News!" he asked branding the "The Gray Lady" of New York "A Fake News Joke!"
The White House also encouraged media to watch a couple of sting videos filmed by conservative outlet Project Veritas showing a CNN producer admitting that the channel was hyping 'mostly bullshit' Trump-Russia scandal for 'ratings.'
In another video, CNN political commentator and host Van Jones is seen saying "The Russia thing is just a big nothing burger."
CNN was quick to dismiss it as a "hoax" only to have Jones sheepishly admit that he did say those words and lamely suggest it was addressed to 'progressives' nursing a false hope that the Russia probe would lead to Trump's impeachment.
And as press and politicians continued their Russia tirade, Trump deftly turned the tables using a Post story to lash out at his predecessor for "choking" over Russian meddling. "Why didn't he do something about it?" he demanded.
CNN among others painted it as Trump's admission that the "Russians did it" while suggesting that the President's "own advisers are struggling to convince him that Russia still poses a threat."
"Scoop and scandal" oriented liberal news site The Daily Beast floated another story about European spies being worried that "ex-spy master" Putin "can extract major concessions" from Trump when they meet at the G-20 summit next week.
Meanwhile, MSNBC "Morning Joe" co-host Mika Brzezinski provided Trump another handle by accusing him of "bullying, lying or undermining managers." Such "abnormal behaviour," by a business executive, she suggested, may raise concerns that he was "perhaps out of his mind."
The retribution from the POTUS was quick. Taunting her as "Low I.Q. Crazy Mika" he claimed that she "along with Psycho Joe" had "insisted on joining me" at his Florida resort last winter when "she was bleeding badly from a face-lift."
As a storm broke out with lawmakers and media chastising Trump for his "misogynistic" tweeting instead of minding the nation's business, the House passed two tough measures against illegal immigrants.
Brzezinski herself found it "unbelievably alarming" that this President with 'childlike ego' is so easily played."
But with the conversation turning away from Trumpcare, Muslim ban and even Russia for a while, the question was who is playing whom!
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)