President Donald Trump was the loser in last week’s allegations that he besmirched military personnel by calling them “losers” and “suckers.” Why? After all, he denied it and he had current and former aides back him up while sources quoted in an article from The Atlantic were anonymous. Here’s why.
Although anonymous, The Atlantic’s reporting was independently confirmed in great part by other news sources. Trump’s claims weren’t.
The Associated Press found a senior Defense Department official with first-hand knowledge of the events and a senior U.S. Marine Corps officer, who was told about the alleged remarks, to verify the report.
A Washington Post story independently found a former senior administration official who confirmed that the president allegedly frequently made disparaging comments about veterans and soldiers missing in action, referring to them at times as “losers.”
In one account, The Post reported, the president told senior advisers he didn’t understand why the U.S. government placed such value on finding soldiers missing in action. Trump reasoned, according to the story, if those soldiers had been captured, they had performed poorly and deserved what they got.
The New York Times found sources that said Trump allegedly has long scorned Vietnam veterans as being too dumb to have been exempted from service, as he was. At other times, according to those reportedly familiar with the remarks, Trump expressed bewilderment that people choose military service over making money.
The Times also verified with their sources that Trump allegedly resisted supporting an official funeral and lowering flags after the death of Sen. John McCain, R- Ariz., a Vietnam War hero whose military service he had belittled. And Mr. Trump’s assertion on Friday that “I never called John a loser” was disproven by a video where he did just that in 2015.
Of course, many Trump supporters will dismiss these reports because they were published by media outlets who disapprove of him. However, the story also was confirmed by Fox News national security reporter Jennifer Griffin. She found two former Trump administration officials who alleged that Trump called anyone who went to Vietnam a “sucker.”
These Fox sources also confirmed reports in The Atlantic, that Trump was in a bad mood and did not go to a 2018 event at an American cemetery in Paris to honor war dead, even though there were no security reasons not to go, as Trump claimed. The sources also alleged that he did not want veteran amputees at his Independence Day parade because it wouldn’t look good.
Major media have long used anonymous sources, and it has always been controversial, although some argue it is the only way to obtain certain information.
In this case, the original anonymous sources were corroborated by four additional news organizations.
That’s in contrast to, for example, Trump’s 2015 claim that “thousands and thousands” of people in Jersey City, New Jersey, cheered the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks as the World Trade Center fell. “It did happen,” Trump told ABC News host George Stephanopoulous on “This Week,” who pointed out that the local police contradicted the claim. Trump said that he saw this event “on television” and that it was “well-covered at the time.”
Trump’s assertion is not true. There’s no corroborating evidence that thousands were cheering. If it were televised, footage would still exist. There is still no evidence of it, and he has yet to retract his claim.
That’s just one example.
So, in this military spat, who are you going to believe? The corroborated anonymous sources or the boy who cries wolf?
Even before this controversy, an August poll of active military troops by the Military Times revealed 41% would vote for Joe Biden and 37% for Trump. The margin of error was 2%.
Now, it appears Trump has given military personnel even more reason to vote for Biden.