By John Gruber
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President Xi Jinping of China is not expected to be strolling the manicured fairways of the Trump International Golf Club on Thursday, sizing up his approach shot.
Mr. Xi is known to be an avid soccer fan, bent on transforming China into a great power in that egalitarian team sport, but the Chinese Communist Party maintains an ideological contempt for golf as a rich person’s game.
That view, among others, places him at odds with President Trump, who owns more than a dozen golf courses and whose so-called Winter White House, the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., charges more than $200,000 for membership.
Describing Mar-a-Lago as “the so-called Winter White House” is pernicious at best, and I would argue it’s downright outrageous. No news organization, let alone one as prestigious in stature and as fastidious about style and usage as The New York Times, should ever describe Mar-a-Lago as “the Winter White House”. Prefacing it by “so-called” doesn’t make it right. So-called by whom? By Trump.
There is only one White House. It is in Washington D.C., and it is owned by the U.S. federal government. It is sometimes and rightly called “The People’s House”, because we the people own it, and we vote to elect the president who lives and works in it. No one profits financially when a state visit is held at the White House.
Mar-a-Lago is a private facility owned by Trump himself. When he hosts state visits there, not only does someone personally profit from it, that someone is Trump himself. Using Mar-a-Lago for official state business goes against everything that the actual White House stands for.
This is no little thing. Describing Mar-a-Lago in a news article as “the so-called Winter White House” is normalizing out and out corruption — Trump’s shameless profiteering off the presidency.
If the Times wants to quote Trump using the phrase, so be it. But the description should never be used in news copy. The New York Times has no more reason to describe Mar-a-Lago as “the Winter White House” than they do to refer to their own publication as “the failing New York Times”.