In case you don’t know who Jeffrey Goldberg is, here’s a refresher: He’s the editor in chief with The Atlantic, an American “lifestyle” magazine who, this week, accused President Trump of referring to fallen veterans of World War I buried in the French Aisne-Marne Cemetery, as “losers” and “suckers” back in 2018.
As if that wasn’t enough, President Trump allegedly said he (additionally) didn’t want to visit the graves because the poor weather would “muss up his hair.” Oh, and, that such a visit would be “unimportant.”
I mean, seriously, make up your mind. Was it about his hair, a disdain for veterans, or a lack of time? Which was it, Jeff? That all three are true is highly unlikely. That two are true is improbable. That one is true is more likely than two or all three, though perhaps impossible to say just how likely.
Whether a Trump supporter or detractor, these accusations are, on their face, ridiculous. President Trump respects the military and our nation’s veterans. To attack his position on such matters borders on ludicrous; for him, this stance is not a political stunt, but rather part and parcel of who he is.
Whether or not President Trump served is not of issue. Whether or not he attacked John McCain is no supporting evidence.
The fact is, “anonymous” tips can be worthless, especially preceding a high-stakes election, in a country divided, where everything is extremely polarized.
Even if sources were to come forward and reveal themselves, that isn’t conclusive proof of the varacity of claims. Without a recording of the supposed slurs, it’s worth a whole lot less. That’s true in this situation, and all situations. Here’s a suggestion to anyone within earshot of immoral speech emanating from the mouth of any of our elected officials: Record it!
In most states, as long as you are party to the discussion, you don’t even need permission. Any good journalist knows this; bureaucrats should as well.
Unfortunately, in the present world of “deep-fakes,” highly sophisticated audio and video can seem like it’s the real thing, as even incredibly believable video and audio recordings can be inauthentic fictions generated by computers. How do we know that what we know is accurate? In terms of epistemology, this raises some good questions worth exploring.
Public statements by multiple witnesses, that is, independent corroboration, video and/or audio recordings, help. As do independent reporting on the same instance of whistleblowing, by different media outlets. We have the last criterion met, as Fox reporters have corroborated details published by The Atlantic, but without the other criteria, it’s far from conclusive evidence of veracity.
And, why now? The timing itself presents issues of whether there’s a possibility of a political motive involved. With only sixty days before the 2020 presidential election, the timing of the release of these alleged remarks aligns perfectly with an organized effort to affect election results by creating an indefensible, unprovable stain on President Trump’s reputation.
U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper made the following statement, “President Trump has the highest respect and admiration for our nation’s military members, veterans and families. That is why he has fought for greater pay and more funding for our armed forces. It’s a total lie. … It’s a disgrace.”
Generals John Kelly and Joe Dunford both Marines, accompanied President Trump on the 2018 European trip in question. Neither concurred on the veracity of the comments General Jack Keane (Ret.) commented to Fox News, “I’ve become suspicious of anonymous sources…and I find it odd that comments made a few years ago…given the inflammatory nature of it..you’d think they’d be linked at the time…I think you have to call into question the credibility of the story itself.”
Former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckaee Sanders was also there, and claims to have been party to the discussion as to why the trip was cancelled, and Tweeted out that, “The Atlantic story…is total BS…this never happened.”
Suggesting that President Trump’s hair is more important than visiting vets is more akin to good material for a Saturday Night Live skit. I can see it now. Alec Baldwin, in his best Trump voice, saying, “I don’t care about those vets. My hair is more important, damn it! Not to mention my spray tan,” as he carefully pats his hair down while frowning, preening in front of a gold mirror.
C’mon, Jeff. It would be laughable, if it were not so disgusting. Mr. Goldberg, you should have saved such creativity for SNL. What a funny parody that could have been; Trump lovers and haters alike would have had a good laugh. If you interviewed “sources” that said all this, and more, yet not a single one wasn’t willing to go on the record with their “truth,” you should have known that the value of such statements is practically worthless, and literally unfit for anything more than inspiration for comedy.
So why didn’t President Trump visit the graveyard? President Trump claims the weather prevented a helicopter flight that day, and the Secret Service, eve vigilant, would not permit a lengthy ride though the narrow and congested streets of Paris. Is this true? The Secret Service has not commented.
The Atlantic claims that neither of the president’s claims has any merit. It’s unclear whether there’s any proof, one way or another.
President Trump’s Democratic competitor in the election, former Obama administration Vice President Joe Biden called the comments “deplorable,” adding that it would be “It is absolutely damnable [and] a disgrace,” if true.
So is it true or not? Firstly, how does one contest an anonymous source with no proof? Secondly, we must consider whether such statements might be out of character for President Trump.
Would President Trump ever say, “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers?” According to The Atlantic writer’s own words, “Belleau Wood is a consequential battle in American history.” Allegedly, President Trump additionally asked, “Who were the good guys in this war?” Further, Goldberg attempts to paint President Trump as a bad-guy-sympathizer, claiming the President “didn’t understand” why the U.S. chose to help the allies, and therefore, it’s implied that the President supported the villains, the Central Powers, the German enemies of the Allies in World War I.
Immediately after citing these questionable “facts,” Goldberg delves into President Trump’s “contempt” for the late Senator John McCain’s war record. President Trump did say, on record, “I like people who weren’t captured.” However, McCain was a vocal critic of President Trump, and during the presidential election of 2016, it was a no-holds-barred grudge match.
According to three alleged sources, President Trump further stated, “We’re not going to support that loser’s funeral.” Supposedly, he also became furiously angry when he saw flags flying at half-staff and asked, “What the f**k are we doing that for? Guy was a f**king loser,” according to the report in The Atlantic released this week.
The plausibility of each and every one of these accusations rests on other verifiable statements uttered by President Trump, as well as well-circulated memes, such as the bit about his preoccupation with his hair. However, each of these alleged uncovered statements and actions takes it all to a new level, crossing from questionable, and perhaps somewhat inappropriate, to wholly immoral and selfish.
Alyssa Farah, a White House spokesperson, e-mailed a statement to The Atlantic stating, “This report is false. President Trump holds the military in the highest regard. He’s demonstrated his commitment to them at every turn: delivering on his promise to give our troops a much needed pay raise, increasing military spending, signing critical veterans reforms, and supporting military spouses. This has no basis in fact.”
True; President Trump’s words for McCain were caustic, even a bit on the inappropriate side. Likewise, his alleged comments about former President and CIA director George H. Bush’s navy plane being shot down by the Japanese in World War II are questionable, as three alleged “sources” said Bush was a “loser” for having been shot down.
Alleged. Alleged. Alleged. Anonymous sources. He said. She said. It’s all too much. Claims of this magnitude must be backed up by fact, or we risk entering an era of journalism where anyone can say any other unnamed anonymous source can claim any third party did or said anything.
The entire article reads more like a hit piece, a psychological take-down modeled after the most skilled character attacks by individuals with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It’s gaslighting and character assassination at its finest.
For the record, I do not support President Trump, nor to I support Vice President Biden. I take journalism seriously and feel it’s my place to report accurately, and in my estimation, taking sides would compromise that clarity.
I just want to see a fair contest, an engaged American public that gets out and votes, and a good show of sportsmanship and decorum by all parties involved.
This article calls into question the role of media in contemporary American society, and politics, specifically. There are times when anonymous sources are a valuable tool, a journalistic aid to cracking a big story. On the other hand, anonymous sources face no repercussions for lying, and a journalist could even make the unethical choice of fabricating sources, entirely.
I am not suggesting the latter, and I certainly hope Mr. Goldberg is above such dishonesty. However, in an age where every newspaper and news station has a strong political slant, anything is possible. There are other issues raised, such as how Mr. Goldberg might ascertain the truth, or lack of it, of such claims. Were these spurious comments by unnamed staffers? Were they true? Were they even partially true?
The truth is, we just won’t ever know for certain. Personally, something seems to smell fishy here. Just as fishy as it would seem if some journalist were to say that unnamed “sources” from the Obama White House claimed good old Joe made racist comments against President Obama. While Joe Biden did help pass the Crime Act of 1994, which harmed many Black youth, I would be hard pressed to believe he’s actually a racist.
In choosing whom to vote for, it’s my hope that Staten Islanders, and all Americans, rely on verifiable fact, and not innuendo or lame accusations. Joe Biden is not senile. President Trump is not obsessed with his hair. Focus on the real issues, and where our candidates stand. The results of such an election are something we should all stand behind, as voting in our next president should be a matter of careful reasoning and sound cognition, and not an emotion-laden stew of feelings, good or bad.
During a heated contest, anonymous sources are worthless, in my estimation. Logically, such claims cannot be involved in one’s formulation of whom would make a better president.
The fact that Jeffrey Mark Goldberg is a registered Democrat, and the Atlantic is a Left-leaning news magazine should cause us to take pause. According to Mr. Goldberg himself, his Brooklyn Jewish family was “very left-wing.” Unlike many left-leaning politicians, Mr. Goldberg does support Israel’s right to exist, and even served in the Israeli Defense Forces, entirely by choice, being an American citizen by birth.
But even if totally honest and forthright, could Jeff’s strong political beliefs blind him in any way? Politics is fraught with emotion; neither Mr. Goldberg, nor any man, is immune to its powerful effects. While a strong defender of the Jewish faith in Israel, and worldwide, Jeff Goldberg is merely human. And, humans have biases. Perhaps his sources were likewise motivated to spike President Trumps’ re-election efforts.
Because we can never find satisfactory answers to any of these meritorious questions, these alleged statements should not enter into the equation of who gets elected. Americans, I implore you to vote on facts. Vote for Joe. Vote for Donald. It’s your choice, not mine. And, it’s not my place to make suggestions. Vote for the candidate you see as most fit for office. But please, don’t vote based on alleged statements by anonymous sources. That goes for the Democratic candidate, and the Republican candidate. There’s just too much at stake. And, each candidate’s platform, actual worlds, and actions should be more than enough to make a decision you’re amply comfortable with.
Update (September 5, 2020 10:512 AM): Fox News Channel national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin reported on the President’s alleged disparaging statements about American World War I vets as though such were factual and proven, claiming that two former senior administration officials spoke on conditions of anonymity.
Griffin stated that she had not confirmed these reports herself, but did allege that other details in her article were reviewed by her peers at Fox. Griffin’s article was entitled Trump: Americans Who Died in War Are ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers,’ and was reportedly drawn from several anonymous sources, rather than just a restatement of those alleged anon sources cited by Jeff Goldberg at The Atlantic.
Jennifer Griffin admitted to Fox News’ Special Report host Bret Baier that she could not verify the veracity of “the most salacious” claims of her “sources,” which leaves us with what, then? That she did confirm that President Trump was concerned about having a bad hair day? She also told Baier of a detail that was not in Goldberg’s previously published article: Americans fighting in the Vietnam war were “suckers,” and claims to have positively confirmed that the President said about Vietnam vets, “What’s in it for them? They don’t make any money. It was a stupid war. Anyone who went was a sucker.”
Now we have four statements, if we consider both the anonymous sources cited by Goldberg and Griffin. Is that corroboration enough, or just proof that the absurdity level has attained new heights?
Twitter was especially active on this topic, as President Trump tweeted out, “[the alleged claims were] all refuted by many witnesses. Jennifer Griffin should be fired for this kind of reporting. Never even called us for comment. @FoxNews is gone!”
If all these claims are true, we can all agree that President Trump is a very, very bad man, a dastardly hypocrite. The issue is, none of us can ever know for sure, one way or the other. Can so many anonymous sources be lying? It’s always possible. Of course, it’s also possible that the claims are true. Again, my suggestion is to vote based on fact.
Remember, all’s fair in love and war, and this election is definitely shaping up to be a war. Those fighting, on the side of the Republicans and Democrats, are definitely not “suckers” and “losers”; Americans really care about the direction of our collective future. However if anyone is guilty of lying, on either side, those individuals deserve all the negative appellations we can dish out.
You work so hard for the military, from completely rebuilding a depleted mess that was left by OBiden, to fixing a broken V.A. and fighting for large scale military pay raises, and then a slimeball reporter, maybe working with disgruntled people, makes up such a horrible charge..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2020
….This reminds me of the Dirty Dossier, which was pushed hard by John McCain, & then with a thud turned out to be a total fraud. So many other scams also. The Radical Far Left is VICIOUS, they will do or say anything to win. But they won’t, we will WIN, & have four great years!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2020