The Slatest

Is Dennis Rodman Trump’s Secret “Back Channel” to North Korea? That’s Actually a Serious Question.

Former U.S. basketball player Dennis Rodman (center) is surrounded by the media as he arrives at Beijing International Airport from North Korea on Jan. 13, 2014.

AFP/Getty Images

Former basketball star Dennis Rodman is reportedly set to touch down in North Korea on Tuesday in hopes of meeting with the country’s quarrelsome president Kim Jong-un. The NBA Hall of Famer was spotted in Beijing International Airport, but wouldn’t comment on the purpose of his trip to Pyongyang. North Korean officials confirmed to CNN that Rodman is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday.

Dennis Rodman, of course, has a history with, and an affinity for, the North Korean president and has visited the country on multiple occasions. Despite Rodman’s notably un-diplomatic demeanor on the basketball court, that hasn’t stopped him from cozying up to Kim. He’s even played ball and sung “Happy Birthday” all under the auspices of “basketball diplomacy.” Rodman has also gone too far at times enthusing about the human rights violation of a country and leader.

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But as much fun as Rodman’s previous shenanigans were, the already frosty relationship between North Korea and the U.S. has hit a deep freeze of late with Pyongyang repeatedly holding nuclear tests at the outset of the Trump presidency. For his part, Trump has talked tough on Kim’s escalating nuclear ambition. It seems unlikely that what this international crisis needed was a little loving from Dennis Rodman, but that might be what we’re about to get. “Rodman’s trip has sparked speculation that he may be traveling to free some or all of the four American citizens being held by North Korea, perhaps as a first and important step toward lessening tensions between Washington and Pyongyang,” according to the Washington Post. “Multiple people involved in unofficial talks with North Korea say that the Trump administration has been making overtures toward the Kim regime, including trying to set up a secret back channel to the North Korean leader using ‘an associate of Trump’s’ rather than the usual line-up of North Korea experts and former officials who talk to Pyongyang’s representatives.”

Please let Dennis Rodman be Donald Trump’s secret “back channel.” Please? In defense of the absurd idea that the president of the United States would enlist the help of a man nicknamed “the Worm,” the two like to say nice things about each other publicly. Rodman endorsed Trump for president (obviously); Trump has had him on Rodman his show a number of times.

Can Dennis Rodman stave off a nuclear war? I’m almost positive I’ve seen that movie before.

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