Is US President Donald Trump truly in crisis, or is it just a media beat-up?
COMMENT: The notion of "crisis" is invariably set to a sliding scale.
Depending on who you are, or where your sentiments lie, a crisis could be a chipped nail. Or it could be two pop-eyed maniacs in a room wrestling over a comedy joystick marked "Global Destruction".
But this column isn't even about the United States/North Korea relationship.
It's about the Trump/Reality relationship and – more centrally – whether the most recent week in US President Donald Trump's busy life in fact constitutes a proper crisis, or more of a chipped nail sort of thing that has been inflated to doompocalyptic proportions by the shallow hyperventilations of the fake news lamestream media.
As of Thursday, Trump and his campaign associates are being investigated by a special counsel whose job it now is to discover whether Trump colluded with Russia to influence last year's presidential election.
The special counsel is Robert Mueller. He was the director of the FBI before James Comey, who was sacked by Trump 10 days ago. Mueller was appointed by deputy US Attorney Rod Rosenstein, who advised Trump to sack Comey and who was himself appointed personally by the president just last month after Trump sacked his predecessor Sally Yates for her refusal to implement his travel ban on selected brown people.
So, to be clear: Essentially, the president is being investigated by a guy hand-picked by the guy the president himself hand-picked to replace the chick he fired.
Shrewdly, Trump smells a conspiracy.
"With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special councel appointed!" he tweeted.
This intervention was disquieting on three fronts.
First: Of the myriad snap responses available to an individual who has been falsely accused, "But look at what those other crims got away with!" does not rate in the Top 100 Most Suggestive Of Innocence.
Second: A world leader under investigation by special counsel is one thing. The dawning realisation that he should also be assisting the Spelling Police with their inquiries is quite another.
Third: This tweet provides conclusive proof the president writes his own stuff.* Presumably, the rest of the White House staff are too busy furtively making notes for their explosive personal memoirs to spell-check the president, whose penchant for spontaneous remarks on social media pretty much ties up what remains of their time in white-knuckle post-tweet damage control. (The spelling error has since been corrected.)
Case in point: White House staff raced around madly – after the president met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the Oval Office (awkward!) – to deny The Washington Post's report that Trump used the meeting to spray around some high-level intelligence. Only to be Trumped by a presidential tweet declaring, in effect: "Sure I handed over the intel. Big deal."
Is "the Russian thing" a crisis, though?
The Australian newspaper votes no. "The media needs to get a grip," the paper declared on Thursday of the reporting frenzy surrounding Trump's high-level Russian footsie.
"It is bringing discredit on itself, constantly overstepping benchmarks of credulity in unceasing attempts to portray Mr Trump as an unmitigated blackguard."
Vladimir Putin himself, meanwhile, volunteered to provide the transcript of the Trump/Lavrov meeting to settle any outstanding disputes about what was discussed.
I'm no expert in crisis identification. But when you get to the point at which your defence may rely on corroboration from the Kremlin, I suspect you're in the ball park, or at least the carpark of the ball park.
As the week's events unspooled, Trump appeared before a crowd of US Coast Guard graduates in Connecticut to declare that "No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly".
No immediate response was available to the 45th US president's bold assessment from presidents #16, #20, #25 or #35, for the excellent reason that all of them were shot and killed while in office.
BBC historian Dan Snow observed mildly: "Well, the Emperor Valerian was captured in battle, enslaved, used as a footstool, forced to drink molten gold and then skinned and stuffed."
Crisis? It's all about the context.
* Trump's intoxicating co-ordinates on the matrix of personal power plotted against willingness-to-self-destruct-on-Twitter, incidentally, are shared only by Rupert Murdoch. It is a great pity Mr Murdoch retired from Twitter on the day he married Jerry Hall, and we are thus permanently denied what could have been the most fabulous exchange of ill-conceived howlers in digital history.
- Sydney Morning Herald