New York Times Reporter Explains Why Donald Trump's Claim That Anonymous Sources Are 'Fiction' Is Hypocritical AF
This morning's tweet storm from President Donald Trump showed him attacking Florida's first black nominee for governor, accusing former President Barack Obama of spying on his campaign, and insisting that Hillary Clinton colluded with the Russians.
Sometime during all that, he also managed to tweet a claim he has made before about news organizations using anonymous sources -- that they're not to be trusted because "they are fiction."
“Anonymous Sources are really starting to BURN the media.” @FoxNews The fact is that many anonymous sources don’t e… https://t.co/BgVRjHqpqG— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1535546405.0
When you see “anonymous source,” stop reading the story, it is fiction!— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1535546498.0
Of course, this comes hours after Trump tweeted accusations that China hacked the emails of Hillary Clinton, in reference to an article that cited two anonymous sources.
Many already know that anonymous sources are vital to the function of a free press. Some of the most pivotal "scoops" in American history--including the Watergate scandal--relied on well-vetted, inside sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
But New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman didn't focus on this widely-known fact. Instead, she cited Trump's own history as his own anonymous source.
Pete Hammill didn’t want to run Trump stories at the NYDN in the 1990s because he said they were too often Trump tr… https://t.co/SErVPnr5w5— Maggie Haberman (@Maggie Haberman) 1535546818.0
And, to be clear, often trying to make claims on background about himself with tenuous factual basis https://t.co/WBNBUEtUEH— Maggie Haberman (@Maggie Haberman) 1535547939.0
The NYC opinion-maker view of Trump was based on decades of self-promotion and deals that didn’t always hold. It wa… https://t.co/DRspVXYK3i— Maggie Haberman (@Maggie Haberman) 1535549502.0
Philip Rucker of the Washington Post also made a similar point.
Trump for decades has been an anonymous source to journalists — from floating news about his sex life to NY tabloid… https://t.co/egZorlHMYv— Philip Rucker (@Philip Rucker) 1535546670.0
And Washington Monthly contributor David Atkins.
Trump is partly convinced of this because he has spent so much of his life lying to the press as an "anonymous" sou… https://t.co/dDkyTGJS6C— David Atkins (@David Atkins) 1535547048.0
Few were surprised.
@maggieNYT OMG, Maggie! You mean he lied????— kristi quaintance (@kristi quaintance) 1535548124.0
@maggieNYT So really, not much has changed?— Rose Alene (@Rose Alene) 1535547988.0
@PhilipRucker Another instance of Trump projecting his own behavior onto others. “No, YOU’RE the puppet!”— LFO (@LFO) 1535554123.0
Trump's rails against unnamed sources have seen a resurgence after a recent CNN story, which reported that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen was prepared to testify that Trump knew ahead of time about the infamous Trump Tower meeting with liaisons to Russia. The article cited multiple unnamed sources, one of whom proved to be Cohen's attorney Lanny Davis, who later claimed that he "should have been more clear." CNN has stood by the story, but the misstep has still bolstered Trump's claims to his supporters.
However, as Haberman pointed out, Trump has often anonymously contributed to stories about himself with false information, frequently using pseudonyms to do so.
Many were quick to call him out for it.
@maggieNYT @davidshepardson This is a good untold story. How many anonymously sourced stories about Trump, even now… https://t.co/I3YQvuKunT— Jim Zarroli (@Jim Zarroli) 1535547969.0
@realDonaldTrump John Barron and David Dennison concur.— Bruno Amato (@Bruno Amato) 1535549312.0
@maggieNYT Meet John Barron. Source of many Trump stories. Must have all been fake. https://t.co/ncHq3JuEab— Vicki J 🏳️🌈 (@Vicki J 🏳️🌈) 1535547519.0
@realDonaldTrump Sure thing David Dennison!— 💅🏿 Shalon Marie 🤷🏿♀️ (@💅🏿 Shalon Marie 🤷🏿♀️) 1535551941.0
Though Trump may be decrying unnamed sources now, but in addition to acting as a source himself, he's often cited information by them as well.
As usual, there's a tweet for everything.
An 'extremely credible source' has called my office and told me that @BarackObama's birth certificate is a fraud.— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1344284580.0
Sources inside @AGSchneiderman’s office are saying that they are very concerned with the allegations against their lightweight boss.— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1386960096.0
Trump's claims about anonymous sources and frequent cries of "fake news" may validate the notions of his supporters and the notions Trump has of himself, however Americans like Maggie Haberman and others who responsibly consume media aren't buying it.