Much of the fledgling Trump Administration has been consumed by extremely negative news stories, almost all of which have been based on anonymous sources. Trump has smartly, if not also very deceptively, responded to these damning accusations by avoiding any real discussion of substance and instead relying on the mantra of “fake news.”
Since his base already understandably despises and mistrusts the news media, they are more than susceptible to being conned with this tactic. At this point, it could be widely reported that U.S. intelligence believes Donald Trump met with Vladimir Putin during the campaign and exchanged millions of dollars in cash, and the Trump Cult would immediately disregard it as a lie having come from “anonymous sources.”
His supporters have been extremely well trained by Trump. I believe that this is something Trump has done on purpose because he knew he needed to inoculate his cult from damaging stories which he anticipated were coming down the pike (probably because they are true, or at least mostly true).
Trump has also become obsessed with the leakers who make up these “anonymous sources.” His cult is too blind to see the contradiction between Trump admitting that the leaks of documents must be real (and thus the great desire to capture the leakers) and the news on which they are based somehow being “fake.”
As someone who has little respect for the journalistic standards of the vast majority of the mainstream news media, I have no problem believing that some of the “sourced” reporting on Trump has been inflated and misleading in order to forward their preferred agenda. I don’t think, however, that major stories are just fantasies being based on totally “made up” sources.
The most interesting thing about Trump’s fixation with supposedly false leaks (his DOJ has apparently granted warrants to conduct surveillance on reporters to find the leakers) is that there is strong evidence that Trump is actually a world-class expert on this subject. The most underreported story regarding media leaks in the Trump Administration, ironically, is that is the White House itself, which is routinely leaking false information.
There are many examples I could provide of pro-Trump leaks turning out to be grossly misleading, or even completely fake. So many in fact, that when Trump Super-fan Bill Mitchell (who recently hung up in the middle of an interview with me for no legitimate reason) suggested on Twitter that Trump start to do this on purpose simply to embarrass the news media, a New York Times reporter responded that the paper believes this has already been happening and that they have taken precautions to prevent being taken by the scam.
Here I will focus on two recent examples which I think prove my point in ways which might not be immediately obvious. The first actually deals with Trump’s furious attempts to find the leakers themselves (you know, the guys who are both extremely dangerous criminals who are leaking classified information, as well wackjobs in high government positions who are just making stuff up).
Back on May 22nd, Trey Yingst, the Chief White House Correspondent for the very pro-Trump One America News Network, tweeted that the leakers had been identified and would be fired when Trump returned from his foreign trip:
SCOOP: Three White House staffers have been identified for leaking classified info. POTUS will fire 'multiple people' when he returns to DC.
— Trey Yingst (@TreyYingst) May 22, 2017
The tweet instantly went viral among the Trump Cult, with over 13,000 retweets. They saw it has proof that Trump was right about what was actually going on here and that he was getting rid of the real bad guys.
I immediately knew — and tweeted as such — that this report was almost certainly bullcrap. Clearly, if it was true there is no way that the White House would leak such huge news to a no-name reporter with a tiny network. They would however use such a lap dog as a willing dupe if they wanted to plant a fake story as a distraction from the Russia news of the day, and/or to perhaps scare the leakers into thinking they had been caught.
The fact that the report indicated that the firings wouldn’t happen for several days was another dead giveaway that that the story was based on a phony leak. After all, once Memorial Day passed without any actual firings no one would even remember the original report and there would be no repercussions for the “fake news.” For the record, I both tweeted and emailed Yingst asking for comment on what really happened here and whether he would now be reporting on the fake leaks coming out of the White House, but he “shockingly” did not even respond to my inquires.
The other recent possibly fake leak with Trump’s finger prints all over it is both less clear cut, but also even more outrageous if in fact my instincts are correct. I am referring to the TMZ report from yesterday that Trump’s son Barron saw the outrageous Kathy Griffin photo on television, thought his father was really decapitated, and was extremely traumatized by the event.
If this actually happened it is obviously tragic. However, this has all the makings of a classic fake leak coming from Donald Trump (or was it maybe John Miller/Barron?). Here are those:
- The news source is a tabloid and therefore has a lower standard of proof.
- TMZ’s founder Harvey Levin is very friendly with Trump himself.
- TMZ claimed their source came from the “Trump family.”
- Barron is eleven years old and would seem to be way too worldly to really think that photo was real or to have the specific dramatic reaction he is said to have had.
- The photo apparently did not appear on most television programs, and when it did it was significantly blurred.
- The story served a very specific/convenient purpose for Donald Trump.
Since Barron will never speak publicly about it, we will probably never know the truth (which is exactly why Trump would feel comfortable using Melania to make up/exaggerate a story about him). But my sense is that I am not alone in having very legitimate suspicions that this story is greatly exaggerated, if not completely “fake news” based on a false leak.
Of course a large part of the reason that people should understandably (and sadly) have such cynicism here is that it perfectly fits Trump’s modes operandi from the very start of his career as a celebrity. The real reason that Trump is convinced that the media reports “fake news” based on sources who are blatantly lying is that he himself has been doing it for years and is still engaging it the same tactics as our president.
As is often the case with Trump, figuring him out isn’t all that complicated, really. He’s simply projecting onto others the sins which he himself routinely commits.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.