The Media Is Striking Out On Trump Anonymous Sources

Have you noticed that the reports of White House intrigue, chaos, and conflict are all coming from “anonymous sources” somewhere inside the administration, or “people who know the president?”

David French, the Harvard-trained lawyer and Iraq war veteran at National Review, called for these sources to come out of the shadows.

Given the gravity of the accusations, your continued anonymity tells me nothing good. The “career civil servants” among you may be little more than partisan bureaucrats, using hyperbole to fool gullible reporters. The aides and appointees may be mainly jockeying for advantage, hoping to humiliate opponents to gain their own seat at the table. Or, if you’re right, and this president truly is dangerous, your anonymity raises concerns about your courage. Men and women have died for this nation, and you’re not willing to risk your GS rating to save it from incompetence or authoritarianism?

The continued source identity shielding leads one to just a few possibilities. Either these are partisans who have reporters’ ears and lots of rumors to spin, or they are spineless cowards looking to featherbed themselves without commitment to the charges they spout.

Given the main stream media’s propensity to confirmation bias, the first possibility seems more likely, by the logic of Occam’s Razor. Just after the election, a spate of “chaos” stories emerged into the media. They turned out to be from disgruntled lobbyists upset that their part of the swamp was being drained.

Now we’ve got a constant drumbeat of stories of Trump’s rage, disappointment with Press Secretary Sean Spicer, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, a tired White House team, and a micromanaging tyrant in the Oval Office. It sounds so close to what the press would want to be true as to make that small leap of “anonymous sources” so easy for reporters writing stories.

I left the following paragraph in, but Flynn beat me to it by resigning Monday night. The media will celebrate their “win” while those at the DIA who once worked for him will also celebrate, but for a different reason.

Gen. Mike Flynn is genuinely in trouble for lying to Vice President Mike Pence. My advice, if the White House is reading this, is that Flynn should go. Keeping him around does nobody any good–apologies to Gen. Flynn, whom I don’t know and don’t wish to disparage. But the man made his own bed and needs to lay in it. He should simply resign and be done with it.

But the rest of the Game of Thrones that the media is throwing at the wall like spaghetti is nothing but rumor mongering.

As French wrote, the stories might be right, or they might be wrong. The media has the upper hand on this, because when they’re wrong, they simply revise and move on, or print a retraction on page B12 beneath the minor league training camp reports. We cannot trust the media to correct itself in a bold and honest way.

So they can bet on innuendo and come out clean, using anonymous sources to peddle the kind of issue advocacy and bias confirmation stories they like regarding Trump, and then display their fits of pique at not being called on first in Spicer’s briefings. As my wife’s three-year-old preschool class members would say: “waaahhhh!”

So far, the media is striking out using these anonymous sources. Since they’re anonymous, the public can’t judge the believability of any story, and we bloggers who follow politics can’t determine which stories are trustworthy, which are Trump feints and trolls, and which are genuine issues.

Personally, I’d believe anything Erick Erickson wrote–because if he gets a phone call, I know it’s legitimate–over what the Washington Post or New York Times wrote using anonymous sources. I think most Americans feel the same way, except they have their own favorite news sources on Facebook, Twitter, and cable TV.

By all means, the media should keep swinging away on this, because eventually, they’ll hit one, but in the meantime, they’re about to strike out. Once that happens, it won’t matter if they get one right, because nobody will believe them.

About the author

Steve Berman

The old Steve cared about money, prestige, and power. Then Christ found me. All at once things changed. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

I spent 30 years in business. Now I write and edit. But mostly I love. I have a wife and 2 kids and a dog and we live in a little house in central Georgia.

View all posts