Since the early days of the Cold War, the president of the United States has been known as the "Leader of the Free World."
According to several media outlets, this is no longer true.
The title originated in the late 1940s after World War II but did not become popular until the early 1950s. The "free world" first consisted of the Allied powers that stood up against the Axis powers during the Second World War. As the Cold War took shape, the free world became non-communist countries, led by the United States, that resisted the Soviet Union and pursued capitalism within their borders.
Since then, the president of the United States has been commonly referred to as the leader of the free world.
When Donald Trump won the election, however, several media outlets published articles suggesting that the president of the United States could no longer be called the leader of the free world because of his worldview.
The latest example is a Politico article published Thursday, titled "The Leader of the Free World Meets Donald Trump," which describes President Trump's meeting Friday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The article was written by James Rubin, who served as assistant secretary of state for public affairs under former President Bill Clinton.
Rubin writes that Merkel is the "last best hope" for Western civilization, arguing the U.S. abandoned its role as a world leader to solve the Syria conflict while Germany led by taking in Syrian refugees.
"Trump and Merkel thus represent the two poles of the debate about refugees and responsibility in 2017," the article says.
Rubin also references the two leaders' divergent approaches to Russia and the European Union, as well as their different styles and backgrounds, to show that Germany's chancellor, rather than America's president, is now leading the Western world.
Politico is not alone in publishing such a story. Other outlets have also ran articles claiming that Merkel is now the leader of the free world since Trump took office.
— The Independent (@Independent) March 17, 2017
How Angela Merkel, a conservative, became the ‘leader of the liberal, free world' https://t.co/AiD5HmDD2L
— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) November 21, 2016
CNN anchor Jake Tapper echoed this sentiment last week, arguing that Trump cannot be called the leader of the free world anymore. During an interview at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, Tapper said the German chancellor has now taken that mantel.
"It's a difficult environment when the commander in chief of the country–I'd say ‘Leader of the Free World,' but I think that's Angela Merkel now–hears anything he doesn't like and calls it ‘fake news,'" Tapper said.