In their zeal to discredit the duly-elected US President, the media are finding creative new ways to package and spread “fake news.”
To be clear, from my seat, “fake news” is less about the absence of fact and more about the prominence of partisan characterization. And for the purposes of this piece I’m focusing specifically on the media’s unhealthy habit of characterizing President Trump as “mentally unfit” to serve.
It’s Stage 4 of their “obstruction loop” (h/t Mollie Hemingway): At any given time you turn on CNN or MSNBC, for example, you’ll see a host and 5 “experts” all calling President Trump a racist, a rapist, a Russian spy, or literally insane. And they’ll all be assuring each other that “If only President Trump hadn’t done [X] then we’d totes be covering all the good things he’s doing. But it’s been proven yet again that he’s [a racist / a rapist / a Russian spy / literally insane], so we have to talk about that instead.”
The obstruction loop.
And “literally insane” (or “mentally unfit,” as they euphemistically hedge) seems to be their favorite as of late.
Because thanks to a whole bunch of anonymous sources who over the last few years have said he’s mentally unfit, the media can claim that there’s a credible pattern from multiple sources who all make that same assertion.
And we saw them doing that pretty aggressively after Woodward’s book was released, and the almost simultaneously-released anonymous NYT op-ed.
But the intellectually honest and fair reality is that until at least some of these anonymous sources go on the record and put their names behind their claims, it’s just gossip. The media — who are flagrantly anti-Trump — don’t get to spend two years trotting out claims by anonymous sources, and then lump those all together and say “Well obviously it must be true because all these people are saying the same thing.”
“All these people” don’t have any credibility because we don’t have a clue who any of them are! And forgive me if we’re not ready to eagerly just take the clearly anti-Trump media’s word for it.
It’s just gossip.
And we’re seeing that same thing happen today with the NYT piece about Rosenstein, per anonymous sources, wanting to recruit members of Trump’s cabinet to remove him from office on the grounds that…wait for it…he’s “mentally unfit.”
Now that Rosenstein has denied it and the media have decided to ignore that denial, we’re in the “analysis” phase. And that’s when their 29 person panels all sit around saying, basically…
This is all part of a pattern. I mean how many times do we have to hear it? Even if this version isn’t completely true or accurate, we’ve heard it so many times before from so many other sources. It’s undeniable at this point. The people around President Trump think he’s nuts, and there’s a real question about whether or not he’s actually fit to serve. Period.
Again, the part they purposefully leave out is that literally all of these “many sources” and “people around President Trump” are 100% anonymous. We have no idea who they are, let alone if they said the things they’re alleged to have said.
It used to be that an anonymous source might produce actual evidence of something besides their gossip; some kind of hard evidence. But no more. Not since Trump won. Now the public are treated to a steady stream of stories that rely on nothing more than what an anonymous source tells an eagerly anti-Trump “journalist.”
So the media will keep insisting that today’s anonymously sourced story must be true because yesterday’s anonymously sourced story said the same thing. And they’re hoping voters won’t catch on to their scam. And sadly, I’m afraid some won’t. I’m not talking about the people who already hate President Trump. They’re already fully convinced that he’s everything the media says he is: A racist, a rapist, a Russian spy, and/or literally insane.
I’m talking about the independents who helped put him in office. And maybe even some Republicans. They see Kaitlan Collins, Jake Tapper, Gloria Borger, Phil Mudd, Jeffrey Toobin, Wolf Blitzer and the rest all sitting around pretending to be concerned over “this pattern that’s clearly emerging.” A “pattern” based solely on claims made by nameless, faceless sources who hate Trump as much as they do. People see and hear it, and I worry that many don’t stop to question: But who are the sources? Have any gone on the record? Because if not, then it’s really just gossip.
UPDATE, 9/21/18 at 9:02 PM Eastern
And leave it to Jeffrey Toobin and Kirsten Powers, after I published this piece, to take turns proving the point. Paraphrasing, “All these anonymous sources saying the same things prove that it’s true.”
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