Saturday, July 22, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

Fresh off a New York Times interview in which he did enormous political damage to himself, he accused the New York Times of abetting terrorism.

In the midst of a tweetstorm unusual for its range and negativity even by Trump's standards, Trump claimed that "The Failing New York Times foiled U.S. attempt to kill the single most wanted terrorist,Al-Baghdadi," adding that the Times was putting its "sick agenda over National Security." Trump was referring to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the onetime leader of the Islamic State. Al-Baghdadi was apparently killed in June by a Russian airstrike, but there is some doubt among American officials that he is actually dead. 

But why exactly Trump thought the New York Times had anything to do with it was not immediately clear. The paper asked the White House to clarify; it has not done so. However, as is often the case, Trump appears to have been incorporating half-watched TV programs into his understanding of actual issues related to his job. Shortly before Trump's tweet, a retired reserve military officer and commentator told a Fox and Friends Saturday panel about allegations that the NYT released details in a 2015 story that al-Baghdadi could have used to avoid capture.

The NYT noted that it had received clearance from the Pentagon before publishing its story, and that no American official actually connected with the matter had ever complained. Trump, to whom the Pentagon reports, apparently did not know this or wasn't interested in finding out.

Why does this matter?

  • It should not be this easy to mislead or manipulate the President of the United States.