Trump's Denial of The Atlantic’s Report On HIs Degrading The Military Is Fueled By The Use of Unnamed People With First Hand Knowledge
(The Atlantic) “When President Donald Trump canceled a visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris in 2018, he blamed rain for the last-minute decision, saying that “the helicopter couldn’t fly” and that the Secret Service wouldn’t drive him there. Neither claim was true.
Trump rejected the idea of the visit because he feared his hair would become disheveled in the rain, and because he did not believe it important to honor American war dead, according to four people with firsthand knowledge of the discussion that day. In a conversation with senior staff members on the morning of the scheduled visit, Trump said, “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.” In a separate conversation on the same trip, Trump referred to the more than 1,800 marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood as “suckers” for getting killed.”
The story is based on four people with firsthand knowledge. Those four people are unknown.
Then there is this from Chris Cillizza’s analysis on Donald Trump’s reported commentary on the military.
“On Friday morning, Trump took his defense to Twitter. ‘The Atlantic Magazine is dying, like most magazines, so they make up a fake story in order to gain some relevance,’ he wrote. ‘Story already refuted, but this is what we are up against. Just like the Fake Dossier. You fight and and fight, and then people realize it was a total fraud!’"
Unfortunately, the news media, like Donald Trump, suffers from a public relations problem. When a report is based on “four people with firsthand knowledge” the report is subject to relentless attacks like Trump’s.
Unfortunately for the media, Republicans have effectively called into question the reliability of news reporting which resonates with Trump’s right-wing base. Moreover, the media suffers from a general image problem with some of the American public regarding its reliability and its accuracy in reporting. Morning Consult wrote this year “Republicans drive decline with average 16-point drop in trust for nine leading media outlets since 2016.”
Whether it is the conservative Fox News network or the liberal CNN, some in American society believe politics is permeating the news media. Consequently, when a news outlet reports a major story such as Donald Trump's negative comments about the military sources according to “people with firsthand knowledge”, the report is called into question. The lack of a named source gives the Trump response more credibility with his base, more credibility with Republicans. Moreover, once again the press is called into question regarding the veracity and reliability of its reporting.
Unfortunately, sources often do not want to be named or revealed. The media, therefore, must make the decision of weather a story is published based upon the commentary of unnamed sources. Although the story being reported is best served by naming reliable sources there are those instances where the sources remain anonymous. Unfortunately, in this instance the sources remain unnamed giving Trump fuel to dispute the accuracy of the report.
It is worth noting, however, that Trump has a long history of saying unflattering things about the military. CNN’s Chris Cillizza writes:
“Trump's insistence that he would never say anything disparaging about a military veteran or the military more generally is belied by, well, facts.
In 2015, shortly after he had officially entered the 2016 Republican presidential race, Trump said this of the late Arizona Sen. John McCain: ‘He's not a war hero. He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren't captured.’ McCain was shot down and kept captive by the North Vietnamese for more than five years. The wounds he suffered as a result of the torture he endured during his captivity left him unable to raise his arms over his head -- among other maladies -- for the rest of his life.
In the wake of Gold Star father Khizr Khan's speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2016 -- in which Khan suggested Trump had never sacrificed anything in life -- the billionaire businessman suggested that Hillary Clinton's speechwriters had actually written the speech and that Khan's wife, who stood silently by her husband, was not allowed to speak. As for Khan's claim that Trump had never sacrificed, the Republican nominee responded this way: ‘I think I've made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard. I've created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures.’
Following the death of US Army Sgt. La David Johnson in Niger in 2017, the slain soldier's wife (and a Florida Democratic congresswoman) said that Trump had told her on a phone call that her husband "knew what he had signed up for." Trump denied the claim.
Last fall, Trump referred to his former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, a highly decorated Marine, as ‘the world's most overrated general.’
While campaigning in Iowa in November 2015, Trump said, "I know more about ISIS than the generals do." (CNN)
Is the Atlantic story false? No, based on Trump’s history, and his tendency to speak before he engages his brain (if he engages it at all), the Atlantic story is true.
Here is hoping the people with firsthand knowledge come forward.
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