Press reports of an “out-of-control” Trump contain virtually no named sources

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Even the Associated Press apparently thinks that it’s okay to report on rumors and innuendo from unnamed sources. An AP report on Saturday claims that “President Donald Trump has become distrustful of some of his White House staff, heavily reliant on a handful of family members and longtime aides, and furious that the White House’s attempts to quell the firestorm over the FBI and congressional Russia investigations only seem to add more fuel.”

The news agency’s evidence of Trump’s state of mind comes from watching his moves on Twitter and then attributing a tone to them which follows the media’s narrative that the man is basically unhinged. Trump’s recent tweet, “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” was seen by the AP as “an apparent threat.”

It’s difficult to know which stories about internal White House goings-on are actually true, because news reports are written as though there’s a talkative fly on the wall of the Oval Office that provides amazing details about more than just Trump’s actions; it seems able to also read his thoughts.

According to the AP report, “Trump’s frustrations came to a head this week with the firing of FBI Director James Comey, who was overseeing the probe into his campaign’s possible ties to Russia’s election meddling. Fearful that his own team would leak the decision, Trump kept key staff in the dark as he pondered the dramatic move.”

Depicting the White House as a chaotic place, the report predicts serious and long-lasting implications for Trump because he fired Comey. And then there’s a group of people referred to in the press as “Comey’s allies,” who have been claiming that Trump lied about his conversations with Comey. However, the only one not talking about those conversations is Comey himself.

“Several people close to the president” are cited saying that Trump is distrusting of his own staffers, but none of them are identified.

The report goes on to cite “Trump confidants” and “associates” who talk freely to reporters about the gossip of the day, including “Bannon has been marginalized on major decisions, including Comey’s firing, after clashing with Kushner,” and despite Trump’s public praise of chief of staff Reince Priebus after the House passed a health care bill last week, “associates say the president has continued to raise occasional questions about Priebus’ leadership in the West Wing.”

Every move the president makes… or doesn’t make, such as “Trump spent most of the week out of sight, a marked change from a typically jam-packed schedule that often includes multiple on-camera events per day” is scrutinized and discussed, right down to how many scoops of ice cream he eats after dinner.

Reports claiming that “Trump is said to be seething over the flood of leaks pouring out of the White House and into news reports,” are probably not too far off, but how could AP reporters know the following: “He’s viewed even senior advisers suspiciously, including Bannon and Priebus, when stories about internal White House drama land in the press.”

According to the AP, “A dozen White House officials and others close to Trump detailed the president’s decision-making and his mood on the condition of anonymity in order to discuss private conversations and deliberations.”

Who are all these people who are supposedly so close to the president that they know his innermost thoughts, but they apparently have no loyalty at all to him? How can someone be a “confidant” while leaking information to a leading news agency?

“After Trump decided to fire Comey, he was told by aides that Democrats would likely react positively to the news given the role many believe Comey played in Hillary Clinton’s defeat last year. When the opposite occurred, Trump grew incensed — both at Democrats and his own communications staff for not quickly lining up more Republicans to defend him on television,” reported the AP, citing “multiple people who have spoken with him” as credible sources who can say that Trump “increasingly sees himself as the White House’s only effective spokesperson.”

“Two White House officials said some of Trump’s frustration centers on what he views as unfair coverage of his decisions and overly harsh criticism of press secretary Sean Spicer, as well as deputy press secretary Sarah Sanders, who led much of the response to Comey’s firing. Aides said Trump does not believe his team gave contradictory stories about his decision to fire Comey, despite the fact that the White House’s explanation changed dramatically over a 48-hour period,” reported the news outlet without using one named source.

At least former House speaker Newt Gingrich was willing to go on the record when he said, “The challenge they have is that the president sometimes moves so rapidly that they don’t get a team around that gets it organized. He’s a little bit like a quarterback that gets ahead of his offensive line.”

However, the story went back to citing “White House officials” who said that “Trump is mulling expanding the communications team and has eyed hiring producers from Fox News.”

With all these unnamed sources in the White House running to the press and talking about their boss, it’s no surprise that “Trump’s visible anger and erratic tweets prompted a reporter to ask Spicer on Friday if the president was ‘out of control.'”

Spicer’s answer was on the record. “That’s, frankly, offensive,” he said.

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