Trump Defenders Diss Vets Story, as Other Outlets Pile On

Fallout continues over report in the 'Atlantic'
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 4, 2020 11:10 AM CDT
Trump Backers Slam Anonymous Sourcing of Vets Story
President Trump talks with reporters at Andrews Air Force Base after attending a campaign rally in Latrobe, Pa., on Thursday.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The big political story of the day is the scathing article by Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic alleging that President Trump referred to America's war dead as "suckers" and "losers." It's a potentially damning piece two months before an election in which Trump can't afford to lose the support of the military, notes the New York Times. Trump has forcefully denied it, and his supporters are seizing on the fact that the story is based on anonymous sources. Coverage:

  • Not credible: "Goldberg's story is trash," per a post at RedState by Bonchie. "Anonymous sources who heard it from [a] friend who heard it from a friend are not real sources. They are just political tools to push a narrative." The post suggests that the story came from former defense chief James Mattis because he's disgruntled Trump didn't follow his lead on Syria. Twitchy rounds up post after post making the same point on the anonymous sourcing.

  • More accusations: The Washington Post, the AP, and the New York Times all spoke to (anonymous) sources who back up aspects of the Atlantic story. The Post, for example, reports that Trump has called vets and soldiers missing in action "losers" and has wondered why so much effort is expended to find MIA soldiers, because they didn't perform well and got caught. The Times reports that Trump has "long scorned those who served in Vietnam as being too dumb to have gotten out of it." And the AP backs up an anecdote in the Atlantic in which Trump visited the Arlington grave of the son of then-chief of staff John Kelly and said to Kelly, "I don't get it. What was in it for them?" Kelly's son was killed in Afghanistan.
  • In defense: Former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders denies the allegation that Trump skipped a visit to a cemetery for US vets in France in 2018 because he said it was "filled with losers." Tweeted Sanders: "Total BS. I was actually there and one of the people part of the discussion. This never happened. I have sat in the room when our President called family members after their sons were killed in action and it was heart-wrenching. ... I am disgusted by this false attack."
  • McCain: The article alleges that Trump slammed the late John McCain, saying, "We're not going to support that loser's funeral." Politico notes that Trump said of McCain in 2015: "He's not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren't captured." But as part of his denials of the Atlantic story, Trump shot back via Twitter: "I was never a big fan of John McCain ... but the lowering of our Nations American Flags, and the first class funeral he was given by our Country, had to be approved by me, as President, & I did so without hesitation or complaint."
  • Fallout: It's way too early to accurately gauge the fallout, but the Washington Post notes that some vets already are siding up against Trump. One is Army vet David Weissman, who backed Trump in 2016. Now he's encouraging fellow vets on Twitter to display their military photos as their profile pictures "to let Trump know how many people he has offended."
(More President Trump stories.)

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