Donald Trump

Trump Blasts Anonymous Sources, Was Himself One for Years

The president's "anonymous source schtick is complete BS," says Charles Gasparino.

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Oliver Contreras/Sipa USA/Newscom

President Donald Trump rails against the media's use of anonymous sources, but reporters say Trump himself has been an anonymous source many times over the years.

Addressing supporters Thursday at a rally for Montana Auditor Matt Rosendale, a Republican running for Senate, Trump claimed that the media often fabricate sources:

They quote sources. 'A source within the Trump Organization said.' A source. They don't have a source. They never use names anymore. The old days, you have to use names. 'Jim Smith said that Donald Trump is a bad guy.' They don't do that anymore. They say 'a source within the administration.' They make the sources up. They don't exist in many cases….I saw one of them said 15 anonymous sources. I don't have 15 people—forget it. 15 anonymous sources have said all source of stuff. These are really bad people.

Trump's "anonymous source schtick is complete BS," Fox Business correspondent Charles Gasparino then said on Twitter. "Just heard @POTUS at this rally complaining about the use of anonymous sources," Gasparino tweeted. "For the record he was one of mine over the years."

Gasparino wasn't the only one who Trump would speak to as an unnamed source, according to Paula Froelich, a writer who used to work for the New York Post. "I believe he was all of ours," she wrote in response to Gasparino.

In fact, reporters have been saying for years that Trump used to pose as an anonymous source. According to Axios' Jonathan Swan, Trump was known as "one of the Manhattan media's most notorious anonymous sources" during his days as a real estate tycoon. He was also notorious for pretending to be his own publicist, using aliases like "John Barron" or "John Miller" to brag about himself in conversations with reporters.

That sort of behavior hasn't necessarily ended. In his book The Trump White House, released in April, Ronald Kessler claims that the president still speaks to reporters as an unidentified source. "Trump phones Maggie Haberman of the New York Times directly, as well as Philip Rucker of the Washington Post, and Jonathan Swan of Axios, feeding them stories attributed to 'a senior White House official,' creating the impression the White House leaks even more than it already does," Kessler writes.

Trump's habit as a serial anonymous source looks even more hypocritical in light of his administration's war on leaks. Last August, Attorney General Jeff Sessions indicated the Department of Justice may be willing to subpoena reporters to trace leaks, and last month it followed through by demanding the phone and email records of New York Times reporter Ali Watkins in an attempt to find out whether her source, a former Senate aide, had leaked classified information. As the Times notes, this move suggested that Trump administration prosecutors "will continue the aggressive tactics employed under President Barack Obama."

According to former Times reporter James Risen, who fought the Obama Justice Department's attempts to force him to reveal his confidential sources, just three cases "involving leakers and whistleblowers" were prosecuted by previous administrations. During the Obama administration, nine such cases were prosecuted.

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  1. I believe he was all of ours

    Maybe if I weren’t caught up in the throes of TDS, this wouldn’t seem like a very distinct ‘own goal’.

    1. Crap… were caught up.

  2. I guess that explains all the puff pieces we keep seeing about him.

  3. Trump was a source so he knows that sources are liars since he was one of them

    1. Once you’ve seen your anonymous ramblings printed as news, I believe it would be rather hard to believe the newspapers anymore.

  4. There is nothing necessarily wrong with anonymous sources. The problem is that there is no way for the public to judge their veracity. That would be okay if you could trust the media. But you can’t trust the media. The media will print anything if it fits whatever narrative they are pushing. On top of that, thanks to NYT v. Sullivan, the existence of any source at all for the information almost certainly relieves the media from any liability for publishing it if it turns out to be false. So the various creatures of Washington are forever slandering each other via anonymously leaks to the media.

    Is that a problem? Not to me, it isn’t. It should be to the media. But the media has long since given up on having any credibility. So, I guess the only people who have a problem with all this are the ones who get slandered.

    1. Ideally an anonymous source should tell you where to look and you should still try to find an on-the-record source or sources.

      In a case where, say, the a criminal gang and/or a government is threatening anyone who talks, maybe get together enough anonymous sources, or backup evidence, to reduce the possibility of just one guy making shit up, and use the source on that basis.

      1. Sure, if you are doing actual journalism and trying to print the truth. But only white nationalists do that.

        1. Sure, if you are doing actual journalism and trying to print the truth. But only white nationalists do that.

          What the actual fuck, or poe’s law?

          1. Do I need to explain the joke?

    2. The media will print anything if it fits whatever narrative they are pushing. makes money

      FTFY

      1. No they really won’t. There a ton of stories that would move copy that they won’t touch. I am pretty sure the FBI spying on the Trump campaign for Obama would make one hell of an interesting story to cover. But they do everything they can to avoid covering it. They cover what fits the narrative.

    3. But the media has long since given up on having any credibility.

      Some people respect the New York Times and The Washington Post and consider them credible. Others respect Fox, Breitbart, and Stormfront, and consider them credible. Much like some people attend liberal-libertarian mainstream schools (Yale, Harvard, Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon, Reed, Williams) while others choose different schools (Regent, Grove City, Ouachita Baptist, Biola, Wheaton, Liberty, Ave Maria).

      Most people can predict the consequences of those choices, but some do not wish to acknowledge the predictable results.

      1. Some people respect the New York Times and The Washington Post and consider them credible.

        Yes, they are known as morons and you are one of them.

        1. Winning the culture war against the goobers has been enough for me.

  5. It is all a stunt to fool the rubes.

    Remember when Trump tried to make the Philadelphia Eagles’ cancellation of their White House visit having something to do with the anthem kneeling? That was a complete lie, he knew it, but he thought he could get some juice out of it by stirring the NFL pot one more time.

    It really is rather shameful the depths of his demagoguery.

    1. Pray tell, what was the real reason?

      1. To bash the media, which his fans enjoy him doing.

  6. ‘They never use names anymore. The old days, you have to use names

    . . . like John Barron, that was a good one. Or John Miller, also a very good one, maybe the best one, am I right? Let me tell you, those guys knew all about which girls were crazy for which totally successful guys, with really big fortures and, uh, totally normal fingers and hands . . .’

    I’m just glad my children and grandchildren get to compete economically with goobers who fall for Trump’s line.

  7. Just heard @POTUS at this rally complaining about the use of anonymous sources. For the record he was one of mine over the years.
    ? Charles Gasparino (@CGasparino) July 5, 2018

    I’m not being this guy’s anonymous source if he’s going to give me up for twitter points.

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