Wednesday, August 29, 2018

What did Donald Trump do?

He said sources that criticized him were made up.

Trump's latest attempt to de-legitimize the free press took the form of calling anonymous sources--the backbone of all political reporting--"made up."

It's often difficult to tell when Trump is lying or simply talking about things he doesn't understand. Given how much his own aides are known to keep secret from him, Trump may truly not know how willing his own staff is to speak out against him. (When Trump accused the New Yorker of lying when it reported that he had mocked Vice-President Pence at a White House meeting, their response cited more than sixty sources directly contradicting Trump.)

But Trump himself (supposedly) relied on an "extremely credible" but anonymous source when he "investigated" the conspiracy theory that President Obama was not born in the United States. 

He's also been a pseudonymous source, pretending to be "John Barron," his (fake) publicist on the phone with reporters.

And Trump is the anonymous source in many political stories. To some extent this is routine: presidents and other White House staff members talk with reporters "on background" every day. But as many reporters disclosed today, Trump actively seeks out chances to be his own anonymous source.

Why does this matter?

  • Presidents who aren't afraid of the truth don't try to make you believe that all journalists are liars.