While the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has shuttered its doors, the three-ring circus is alive and well in Washington DC. Where once we might hear from the President of the United States or have a political scandal a few times a year at most, it seems that now there is a new furor at least once or twice a week. Much of this furor and circus are driven from reports that come from “unnamed sources” These unnamed sources are apparently seeking to embarrass or otherwise drive negative innuendo around the legitimacy of the current administration.
The trouble with unnamed sources however is that they are, well, unnamed. While this might seem more like a statement from The Obvious Observer versus The Objective Observer, this is an important point and needs to be explained in such a way that people understand. Unnamed sources are unverifiable. They are unnamed so no one can go to the source and ask “Did you say this?” More importantly, they may be entirely fabricated.
Now, before any “journalists” or other “Trump deniers” out there go bananas over me saying that the sources could be fabricated, let’s just jog your memory about Jayson Thomas Blair shall we? Remember that guy, who fabricated quotes, sources and stories for years at none other than the New York Times? How about the Killian documents controversy (Rathergate) where forged documents were used to call into question W’s military record? Or, more recently, Juan M. Thompson, another reporter that fabricated quotes and sources.
So, the problem for anyone that might get their shorts all in a bunch over me questioning the legitimacy of unnamed sources is, well, something that reporters pay far too little attention to these days, the facts. The facts are that reporters HAVE fabricated quotes, sources and stories. Fake news, in point of fact, exists and has existed for quite some time. The fact is that journalists have only themselves to blame for the erosion of public trust by failing to control the professional standards of their peers.
You see, the issue with unnamed sources is that unnamed sources can say anything and they do not even have to be real. Let’s imagine what unnamed sources might say about certain journalists.
Unnamed sources say:
“Paul Krugman likes small children.”
Unnamed sources say:
“Phillip Bump is a proponent of rape.”
Unnamed sources say:
“Maureen Dowd thinks everyone should do drugs.”
You see, these unnamed sources are entirely fabricated but it is reasonable to believe that Paul Krugman likes small children. I mean, when they aren’t crying or whining, children are adorable. Who wouldn’t like them? And Mr. Bump might very well believe that you should not discuss religion, abortion, politics or economics on a first date. And I am very certain that Maureen Dowd believes that everyone should get proper medical attention for their illnesses and ailments. So, I make up unnamed sources and then spin the “quote” to generate click-bait and introduce negative innuendo. Easy-peasy Jayson Blair reporting.
Trump himself has called into question these unnamed sources, referring to them as potentially fabricated, and this has driven the media into an outright frenzy. And all of the political pundits point to this as being an immature and stupid thing to do, in essence “throwing fuel onto a fire”. Nobody can seem to understand why Trump continues to do it other than that he is a moron. But, let’s take a step back and look at the facts objectively and follow it to perhaps a logical conclusion.
First, let’s dispense with the assumption that Trump is an absolute moron and evil. Trump is an incredibly successful businessman and his consummate ability to promote his brand is unquestioned. So, Trump is probably reasonably intelligent and has a knowledge of how to engage the media to his own ends. Second Trump has a history of being able to drive a narrative within the media to his own ends. He did this incredibly effectively during this past Presidential campaign, garnering huge amounts of free air time. Third, one of his chief advisors is Stephen Bannon, an individual who ran Breitbart News and certainly no friend of the established media. In fact, I am certain that Mr. Bannon would like nothing more than to eradicate the legitimacy of the media.
So, where might we take these assumptions and facts to some reasonable conclusion? Well, could we not hypothesis that Trump’s incitement of the media is, in fact, intentional and intended to drive a specific narrative to a specific end? What might that narrative and end be you ask? Easy, the narrative is de-legitimization of the established media with the eventual goal being that the established media is entirely viewed as illegitimate by a large majority of Americans and the world.
You see, by inciting the media, the media fights back and makes up more and more outlandish headlines on flimsier and flimsier material from “unnamed sources”. What if; what if, the Trump administration KNOWS that there was no Russian collusion but allows “unnamed sources” to “leak” information, knowing that the media, in their furor, will latch on to these reports and publish outlandish reports that will eventually be shown to be without merit. The phrase “enough rope to hang oneself” comes to mind. And no, that is not of a racist remark the same way that saying “I finally found a final solution to that Laplace transform problem” is not a racist, bigoted or anti-Semitic remark.
I mean, it has gotten so bad that if Trump ate an egg for breakfast, I would fully expect the headline to be “Trump Eats Baby for Breakfast” or “Trump Performs Late Term Abortion”. Both of these statements, while factually true regarding eating a baby chicken are intentionally spun to generate click-bait and introduce negative innuendo. But, Trump can’t win. If he doesn’t like eggs for breakfast and orders his chef not to cook them, then the headline would be “Trump Supports Ban on Abortion”.
You see, this is how a large portion of the American population view Trump and the media. A solid majority of people in this country just accept that the media is going to attack Trump regardless of what he does. And the media is going to attack Trump in a way that seeks to delegitimize his Presidency and spread around negative innuendo of misdeeds without any actual proof. I have to believe that Trump knows this and is therefore encouraging this kind of media behavior because, say what you will about Trump, he proved during the campaign that he was the only one with a true read and pulse on the American electorate.