President Trump has spoken a lot about “fake news” lately. It is a term that originated to describe the sorts of stories that Russian agencies spread on Facebook in order to get him elected. He’s since turned reality on its head and begun claiming that news sources like CNN and the New York Times are fake. During a speech at CPAC Friday he said:
I want you all to know that we are fighting the fake news. It’s fake, phony, fake. A few days ago, I called the fake news ‘the enemy of the people,’ and they are. They are the enemy of the people. Because they have no sources. They just make them up when there are none.
If the president really believes there aren’t any legitamate sources then he should tell his Press Secretary to stop wasting so much time looking for them. Sources told Politico that, after learning of a leak that could be traced back to a particular meeting Sean Spicer called all atendees back into his office for an “emergency meeting” where he confiscated everyone’s phones and looked through them for evidence of outside contact.
He then sternly warned them not to speak to anyone about the phone checks. After the meeting – at least some of them – promptly contacted Politico and did just that. Other accounts tell of occasions where Spicer accused particular staffers of leaking information, sometimes screaming and swearing at them in front of their coworkers. Perhaps the most shocking example is a memo that circulated warning staffers to avoid leaking information. The full document wound up on the Washington Post’s website within an hour.
To be fair the leaks are abnormal and would negatively affect any administration’s ability to function. They’re especially troubling when they come from the FBI and CIA, organizations that are normally very good at plugging leaks. But it’s pretty hard to believe that everyone from the spies to the guy who brings Trump his coffee suddenly decided to be nasty for no good reason.
Trump is the real source of these leaks. He created an environment of fear and vitriol and became famous for his negative attitude. Upon taking office he’s intentionally given agencies a hard time and lies like no other president we’ve ever had. The truth is that in Trump’s America there is just a lot more bizarre news that is worth leaking. These aren’t military secrets that put lives in danger. They are the sorts of stories that every employee in America tells when they have a crazy boss. And in a country with a crazy-boss president and a free press they’re going to get out.
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