Obama NSC Official: 'North Korea Won the Olympics,' Received Positive Press Coverage

February 23, 2018

Samantha Vinograd, who served on former President Barack Obama's National Security Council, said Friday that North Korea "won" the 2018 Winter Olympics because of the media's positive coverage of Pyongyang coming out of the games.

Vinograd appeared on CNN to discuss President Donald Trump's decision to send his daughter and White House adviser, Ivanka Trump, to lead the U.S. delegation at the Olympics closing ceremonies in Pyeongchang, South Korea, this week.

Ivanka Trump said that her visit is meant to intensify pressure on North Korea, which continues to develop its nuclear and ballistic missile programs despite U.S. and United Nations sanctions against such activity.

"There will be some symbolic moments, but substantively there could be serious diplomatic moments as well," host Wolf Blitzer said of Trump's visit.

Vinograd agreed and said that is why the U.S. needs an ambassador in South Korea—a post that is still vacant—and experts on issues concerning the Korean peninsula to be there.

"And look, North Korea won the Olympics," said Vinograd, who served on Obama's National Security Council in multiple high-level roles. "Medal count aside, all of the press coming out of the Olympics is about North Korea playing ball, literally and figuratively, with other countries while continuing their illegal programs. So we really need a trained diplomat."

MSNBC host Willie Geist reported earlier this month that South Koreans castigated prominent American media outlets for their positive coverage of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's sister during her visit to the Olympics, calling their infatuation with her "mind-boggling."