Donald Trump Effectively Owns the New York Times
Journalism is an old field. It’s developed certain standards that “good” journalists follow before publishing. “Bad” journalists don’t follow those standards, which is how we get stories like the one about the Trump dossier.
These rules are carefully codified so that information from random anonymous voice messages don’t become news stories:
Someone left this voicemail at Forbes' front desk last night. For the record, there is no conspiracy. We just count the numbers. pic.twitter.com/EGY1fi8rJL
— Dan Alexander (@DanAlexander21) October 18, 2017
Also, calling into Forbes as “John Barron” and claiming to be worth billions more than you actually are won’t really help you that much, though it might help a little.
You might then turn to calling and making claims about yourself and then also have your lawyer do the same. Even so, you might not be thoroughly believed:
Trump knew I had doubts about his assertions, so he had his lawyer, Roy Cohn, call me. Cohn spent most of his time threatening lawsuits, schmoozing with mobster clients and badgering reporters with off-the-record utterances that made his clients look good and their enemies look bad. Cohn surprised me at my Forbes desk that summer: “Jon Greenberg,” a scrappy voice bellowed, before I could connect my tape recorder. I took notes by hand. “This is Roy. Roy Cohn! You can’t quote me! But Donny tells me you’re putting together this list of rich people. He says you’ve got him down for just $200 million! That’s way too low, way too low! Listen, I’m Donny’s personal lawyer, but he said I could talk to you about this. I am sitting here looking at his current bank statement. It shows he’s got more than $500 million in liquid assets, just cash. That’s just Donald, nothing to do with Fred, and it’s just cash.” He concluded: “He’s worth more than any of those other guys in this town!”
I offered to have a messenger pick up the bank statement at his office. Cohn protested that the document was confidential. “Just trust me,” he said. I told him I wouldn’t take his word without seeing the paperwork. “It’s confidential!” Cohn yelled.
It’s with such victories that serious journalists can feel satisfied that they weren’t hoodwinked thanks to their rigorous standards. They have rules to protect them. They try to establish sources within otherwise opaque administrations, but they don’t publish unless they can get corroboration. For example, two independent sources…
The problem is once you’ve published your standards for deciding what is true, you’ve also published the answer key for those who wish to fabricate it for their own purposes. If an anonymous official within the administration is not enough, then you’ll get two.
That is my unsubstantiated guess as to how we got a story about how a panic-stricken Rod Rosenstein suggested wearing a wire to record Donald Trump to get Cabinet members to invoke the 25th amendment.
EXCLUSIVE: Rosenstein discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to oust Trump in the days after Comey was fired in May 2017. Rosenstein also discussed wearing a wire to secretly record his conversations with Trump. https://t.co/lq3iWOqM1r w/@adamgoldmanNYT
— Michael S. Schmidt (@nytmike) September 21, 2018
For those not in the know, the 25th amendment allows an incapacitated president to be stripped of his office and replaced by the Vice President. It requires the Vice President. It requires the President’s own cabinet to back the Vice President. It also requires two-thirds of both houses of Congress, both of which are held by Republicans. The 25th amendment is a non-starter, and anyone who has attempted to read the text knows it.
Similarly, wearing a wire is a non-starter. It would only help if the President were to happen to disclose material, damaging, criminal information while someone were wearing it.
Rod Rosenstein, it should be noted, is the United States Deputy Attorney General. He graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School, was an editor of Harvard Law Review, and has worked for the justice department since 1990. The man probably knows all this. He’s also overseeing the Mueller investigation, which is looking into possible links between President Trump’s campaign and the Russian government. It has resulted in at least eight guilty pleas or convictions including the president’s campaign chairman and national security advisor. It is known that Trump probably doesn’t like Rosenstein.
Yet, check the link. The New York Times reports Rosenstein’s guffaw-worthy perfidy as gospel, probably because two independent well-placed sources in the administration said so, which is how the Times determines what is fit to print.
Less than a week later, we hear more of the ever-unstable Rod Rosenstein:
NEW: Rosenstein grew emotional at the White House, rehirerated he wants to resign and is concerned Trump will attack him if they don’t have an amicable split. One reason he wants to quit: he doesn’t want to testify on the Hill about the allegations. https://t.co/NSnBx2Nzge
— Michael S. Schmidt (@nytmike) September 24, 2018
Let’s put that in a block-quote for posterity:
NEW: Rosenstein grew emotional at the White House, rehirerated he wants to resign and is concerned Trump will attack him if they don’t have an amicable split. One reason he wants to quit: he doesn’t want to testify on the Hill about the allegations.
This is not even a tiny bit plausible. Donald Trump figured out the cheat code to get the New York Times to believe anything. They will now present any story he has to say as fact as long as he does it through two seemingly independent sources, and there is no contrary evidence. Those rigid rules of journalistic standards fail spectacularly here.
When will the Grey Lady be able to figure out it has been hacked?
Feature image credit: maribou claims fair use from a Business Insider screen-cap of a YouTube still.