CNN's Chris Cillizza hyped the Atlantic magazine smear upon President Donald Trump on Friday (updated on Saturday) in "Here's the problem for Donald Trump with the Atlantic story." Well, to paraphrase that title, here's the problem for Chris Cillizza with the Atlantic story: it never even mentioned the one very prominent non-anonymous source that came forward to upend that story, namely John Bolton. Since Bolton was very inconvenient to the narrative Cillizza was trying to promote, he simply avoided acknowledging him in any way.
Here is Cillizza hyping anonymous sources while skipping mention of a very real credible source that contradicts the smear that Trump mocked U.S. war veterans buried at a cemetery in France.
On Thursday night The Atlantic published a bombshell story that alleged -- citing four anonymous sources -- that President Donald Trump had repeatedly mocked US soldiers killed in battle and skipped a visit to a veterans' cemetery in France out of concern that rainy conditions would mess up his carefully coiffed hair.
The report immediately became a massive story, with Democrats -- including Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden -- rushing to condemn Trump for his alleged behavior and the White House rallying an aggressive pushback against the article, including the President himself.
...Jeffrey Goldberg, who authored The Atlantic piece, stood by his reporting in an appearance on CNN's New Day Friday morning.
"I stand by my reporting," he said. "I have multiple sources telling me this is what happened, and so I stand by it."
So, we're left with this dilemma: Goldberg insists the story is true. Trump insists the story is false. Both of those views can't be right.
Naturally, in any credibility assessment between Trump and his media haters, CNN will side with its fellow media haters. Since Trump suggested John McCain was a loser for getting captured in Vietnam, then the haters are credible. Since Trump called James Mattis an overrated general, then the haters are credible. It's not proof, but....who cares?
There's more -- much more -- but you get the idea. Trump has in the past been willing to critique military veterans as well as prisoners of war.
Now, that is not proof -- at all! -- that he said and did what The Atlantic piece alleges. But the context here is not favorable for Trump.
...Had this report come out about, say George W. Bush or Barack Obama, and they had denied it forcefully -- as Trump has -- it would be a near-certainty that most people (and the media) would accept that the story was just flat wrong. Because there was no indication in any of their past behavior that would indicate they might ever utter such sentiments about the military.
That's simply not the case with Trump. And that fact complicates his defense of himself against The Atlantic in a major way.
Actually what complicates your hyping of The Atlantic smear is that we have credible testimony from the one who was actually there on the scene at the time, former White House national security adviser John Bolton. Ironically, since Bolton is now rather unfriendly towards Trump it actually adds to the credibility of his rebuke of the Atlantic magazine smear. Does anyone think his book publishers wouldn't have loved this story to sell books?
Even John Bolton comes to President Trump’s defense pic.twitter.com/jOu0i1yAw2— TV News HQ (@TVNewsHQ) September 5, 2020
"Well, I didn't hear either of those comments or anything even resembling them. I was there at the point in time that morning when it was decided that he would not go to Aisne-Marne cemetery. He decided not to do it because of John Kelly's recommendation. It was entirely a weather-related decision and I thought the proper thing to do."
Since Cillizza updated his smear job hype story at 3:39 PM ET on Saturday he had more than enough time to have included the only credible witness of the event in question to have come forward---John Bolton. That he choose not to do so leaves us with the conclusion that Cillizza, like his network, is primarily interested in perpetrating fake news.