Case Study: How The New York Times Gave Trump The Chance To Say “Fuck You” And Saved Rex Tillerson’s Job

“Once when I was reporting, Lyndon Johnson’s top guy gave me the word they were looking for a successor to J. Edgar Hoover. I wrote it and the day it appeared Johnson called a press conference and appointed Hoover head of the FBI for life… And when he was done, he turned to his top guy and the President said, “Call Ben Bradlee and tell him fuck you.” I took a lot of static for that–everyone said, “You did it, Bradlee, you screwed up–you stuck us with Hoover forever.” I screwed up but I wasn’t wrong.”

—-Washington Post Editor-in-Chief Ben Bradley (Jason Robards, Jr.) in “All the President’s Men.”

Surely I wasn’t the only one who immediately thought about this anecdote (apparently true) from the film version of the Woodward and Bernstein book about the Post’s Watergate investigation. All yesterday, the news services were following the New York Times “scoop,” based on anonymous leaks out of the Trump Administration, claiming that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was about to be canned within days, with CIA head Mike Pompeo, a Trump favorite, taking his place.

I know a little bit about leadership and the kind of people who get to the top of the heap, the Presidents of the United States. I also know how I would think if I disliked and distrusted a newspaper and someone betrayed me within my staff, resulting in a premature revelation of my plans. Unless I regarded a personnel matter as essential, I’d change course to discredit the leaker and make the newspaper look bad.

Sure enough, President Trump tweeted today,

The media has been speculating that I fired Rex Tillerson or that he would be leaving soon – FAKE NEWS! He’s not leaving and while we disagree on certain subjects, (I call the final shots) we work well together and America is highly respected again!

Good for him.

The press risks influencing events by jumping te gun like the Times did with its Tillerson story. That’s irrepsonsible and unethical. I they were trying to save Tillerson, and I wouldn’t put it past them, that’s unethical journalism. If they didn’t know that this President, like LBJ, was likely to react that way to leaked story, that’s incompetent journalism. They allowed President Trump to make their report fake news, just to spite the new media.

Of course he did.

Say “Thank you,” Rex.

47 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Literature, Quotes

47 responses to “Case Study: How The New York Times Gave Trump The Chance To Say “Fuck You” And Saved Rex Tillerson’s Job

  1. I’d post a bunch of smilie faces and a long line of LOL and ROFL acronyms but that would be entirely inappropriate.

    P.S. I was thinking the exact same thing about the article yesterday.

  2. Chris

    Wait a second. If it was originally Trump’s plan, and he changed it to spite the Times, then it wasn’t “fake news.” Whether it was responsible or not, if it was true, that label does not apply. In which case, Trump is lying.

    For that he gets a “good for him?”

    You’re making my point about his usage of the term “fake news.” There is no reason to believe that anything he calls “fake news” is actually false; you’re even assuming that in this case, the story wasn’t false, while encouraging his calling it fake news! That’s nonsense, Jack. But it shows that the “fake news” label isn’t really about whether reporting is factual or not. It’s about fighting anti-Trump propaganda with pro-Trump propaganda.

    • The point is, Chris, the Times can’t show it was his plan. To everyone, it’s just one more fake news story. Trump wins, big. Just one more example of the Times making things up.

    • If you are going to have any credibility, you have to give credit and blame when they are due. There is no journalistic excuse for a “This is going to happen!” news story unless is certain to happen. As long as there is soeone who can make sure it doesn’t happen, then it is inherently misleading to write that it WILL happen. That is asserting certainty falsely. It is even worse when the story itself is guaranteed to ensure that the story is incorrect! This is fake news. It misled the public. And it handed Trump a tactical victory

    • WHOOSH!!!!!!!!!!!

      That comment from Chris shows a Cranial Power Generation Potential that’s approaching (infinity).

      Bias makes you stupid Chris! Chris the story from the New York Times is verifiable FAKE NEWS – period, it’s another catastrophe in the credibility of the New York Times, it’s a complete journalistic failure, it’s a complete failure in logic, and it’s a complete failure of their political propaganda making it a political failure. The New York Times were morons for literally handing a tactical victory to Trump that gives Trump near endless ammunition to attack their biased propensity to FAKE NEWS. This is another fine example that shows how the extreme anti-Trump bias of media outlets, like the New York Times, have completely corrupted their ability to make rational judgements and instead are propaganda machines projectile vomiting anti-Trump smears for the political left.

      These news outlets are so hell-bent on finding anything to implicate Trump that they’ll take anything they can, flush any kind of journalistic ethics, and present unverified baseless smears as “truth” to the public. This is quite similar to the FAKE NEWS story from yesterday (12/1/2017) that Flynn is going to testify that “candidate” Trump directed Flynn to contact the Russians – it’s verifiable FAKE NEWS, it’s a bald faced lie, and the news outlets that reported were forced to publicly eat crow and retract their lie. Presenting FAKE NEWS stories is irresponsible, it’s ignorant, it’s lying to the public, it’s unethical, and it’s evil. The New York Times and their media equivalents are shills for the Democratic Party, it’s the DNC’s version of Pravda; they really don’t give a damn about the truth – the ends justifies the means.

      These news organizations are getting caught with their pants down exposing their extreme biased genitals. They are in the process of assembling their own coffins.

  3. Not to spell out what is obvious, but this episode proves how arrogant te news media is, that they are lousy chess players, and that they foolishly underestimate the the President . He may be an idiot, but he isn’t stupid when it comes to street fighting. This was a big, fat, hanging curve over the middle of the plate, and it is astounding that the Times didn’t see it.Astounding. Now Trump can say “See? Fake news! They didn’t check their sources, they made it look like we don’t have a stable team, they get everyone all upset and excited—and it’s all a lie! Not a word of truth in it. Why does anyone trust that paper? Fake news, just like I said.”
    And there’s not a thing the Times can do about it. Trump got them, and he got them because they loaded his gun and helped him point it.

    Morons,

    • Jack wrote, “this episode proves how arrogant the news media is”, “they foolishly underestimate the the President”, “This was a big, fat, hanging curve over the middle of the plate, and it is astounding that the Times didn’t see it. Astounding.”, “Not a word of truth in it.”, “Morons”

      I don’t think it’s astounding at all, the bias makes you stupid signs have been there for quite some time. The Traumatic Political Stress Disorder that the political left and the anti-Trump “resistance” have been suffering have driven them to a state of clinical obsession with Trump. When obsession is why you do things then the ends justifies the means is the path for moving forward.

  4. Chris

    You are endorsing the practice of propaganda, and essentially arguing that the truth doesn’t matter, only tactics. This is cynical, depressing, and unlike you. I think you are so happy about a Trump victory over the media that it is making your ethics alarms go silent. That you are celebrating this on the day the latest news about Flynn broke, while ignoring that entirely, is frankly bizarre.

    Can you please show me where the Times wrote that Rex’s ouster was for certain going to happen? I find it very unlikely that was their claim. It isn’t their style. If they did not say “this will happen,” then it is you who is being misleading, not them.

    • therealslimshellstropeleanor

      I agree with Chris. Also worth noting.

      No one is “betraying Trump” because they don’t work for him. They work for the US and many of the congressional appointees work for congress because they took oaths to him.

    • You’re blathering, Chris. I am glad to see the Times’ incompetence exposed. I want to see an ethical competent news media that doesn’t show itself to be so biased and inept that it cannot be trusted. And because Trump has been outrageously treated by the press, and absurdly so when compared to its pro-Obama bias, I am very pleased to see it hoisted by its own petard.

      Let’s see:

      The White House has developed a plan to push Secretary of State Rex Tillerson out of his post at the State Department and replace him with current CIA Director Mike Pompeo within the next several weeks, The New York Times reported Thursday.

      …Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) would reportedly replace Pompeo as head of the CIA. Cotton has signaled he would accept the job, according to White House officials who spoke to the Times on condition of anonymity.
      The Associated Press and CNN also confirmed reports that the White House is planning to replace Tillerson with Pompeo.

      All these reports started with the Times. No, the paper did not say “It absoutely positively will happen.” but if that is not the intent of a “plan,” then there really is no new story at all. “Trump might replace Rex” has been true every day since he was appointed. So the news is that he WILL, because that’s the plan.

      There is nothing to write about regarding Flynn, except that it has all of the Trump-haters all atwitter as the hope and pray for a pony. I assumed he would be nabbed; didn’t everybody? The dumb assumption that he’ll be John Dean is based, as always, on the unwarranted assumption that Trump was “colluding” with the Russians to fix the election. He apparently lied about meeting with the Russians. That’s what he’s pleading guilty to. Now he says Trump asked him to contact Russians. That’s nothing. There is nothing improper or sinister about a campaign meeting with foreign powers, but, in fact, ABC botched its report about what Flynn said, and had to issue a correction. But the botched report cracshed the stock market. Fake News: https://hotair.com/archives/2017/12/01/abc-hugely-damning-report-trump-flynn-earlier-might-gotten-one-tiny-detail-wrong/

      • Chris

        Jack,

        You have no evidence that this plan did not exist at the time it was reported by the Times. In fact, most of your article is premised on the idea that it probably *was* planned, and that Trump changed the plan to spite the Times.

        That means you don’t actually believe the report was fake news. You believe it was irresponsible, biased, and improperly obtained news that shouldn’t have been reported on. But you don’t believe it was “fake,” as in false.

        For you to continue to call it fake news when most of your article is based on the premise that it was true when it was reported is to engage in dishonest propaganda. You are literally spreading fake news about fake news. You are better than this, but your bias against the media is causing you to falter.

        • Boy, are you being uncharacteristically dense. Of course it existed, but you don’t report a plan as news, because a plan executed is only news in retrospect. The point, and I was clear for anyone not in denial, is that by irresponsibly running that story, it 1) interfered with actual events, which is unethical 2) misled readers, since it should have known the the story was self-exploding and 3) gave the President a chance to show the Times running fake news…just as LBJ did to the Post.

          This isn’t hard.

          • Chris

            3) gave the President a chance to show the Times running fake news

            As established, it was not fake news. What you mean is they gave the President a chance to lie about the Times running fake news. Why you are helping him perpetuate that lie is beyond me.

            By your logic, if Breitbart publishes the address of a critic causing them to move, you’d consider the initial address posting fake news because it caused the critic to change their address. This would be irresponsible and unethical, but it would not be fake news.

      • I would not trust ANYTHING the Times says, even if it was a pie recipe they made for Thanksgiving. /snark

    • Chris wrote, “Can you please show me where the Times wrote that Rex’s ouster was for certain going to happen? I find it very unlikely that was their claim.”

      This is not surprising coming from Chris. When you have comprehension skills that are as terrible, and as terribly biased, as those that Chris exhibits on a regular basis, this comes as no surprise.

      The reporting from the New York Times and other news organizations can only be interpreted in one way, according to them, Tillerson’s ouster was a certainty. Go ahead and try to prove otherwise.

  5. jan chapman

    OR there could be an ulterior motive for the “leak” Tillerson is considered one of the more moderate voices in the administration on Iran and North Korea. It would be interesting if those who see the danger in this President endeavor to moderate him by using his penchant for doing exactly the opposite of what is predicted. But I still think he’s a goner.

    • Bottom line: Trump wins, and the Times looks bad, along with every outlet that followed its lead. Of course, it’s also possible that the story was bogus all along, like so many others.

      • valkygrrl

        Tillerson gets to stay on and then quit on his own terms at the end of January. I think you’ve misjudged the winner here.

        • valkygrrl wrote, “Tillerson gets to stay on and then quit on his own terms at the end of January.”

          You’re making a future prediction based on a fake news story of “today”; really?

          valkygrrl wrote, “I think you’ve misjudged the winner here.”

          If you truly believe that then it’s quite clear that your bias has made you stupid.

          • valkygrrl

            Surely the rumor mill has reached even your ears that Tillerson’s plan was one year and out, now it looks like that plan will stay intact. And I do wonder exactly who is showing bias here.

            • That rumor, in DC where I live, is regarded as a rumor. Newspapers aren’t supposed to publish rumors as news especially rumors that undermine foreign relations.

              • valkygrrl

                Undermining foreign relations you say? I don’t think letting a rumor slip would rise to the level of say, violating the Logan act. Ah well, you know, for some reason something yesterday got me thinking about that.

                • Chris

                  Good catch, valky.

                • I’ve studied the Logan Act. The reason it is never prosecuted is that it is so vague that it is meaningless. All you have done is confirm my assessment of the conspiracy theory whackos. A conversation isn’t “something of value.” If it is, then the law is unconstitutional.

                  Add the Logan Act to the Emolument Clause, the 25th Amendment, and the anonymous Federalist paper about the electoral college. Also the theory that firing a subordinate for cause can be “obstruction of justice.” Surely that’s plenty to allow the resistance to humiliate itself for three more years. OH! I forgot the theory that tweets are “high crimes.”

                  Give me your addresses, and I’ll send paper bags for you and Chris to wear over your heads.

                  • Chris

                    Now it’s valky’s turn to say “whoosh.”

                    You said the Times “undermined foreign relations.” You said this shortly after declaring that Michael Flynn pleading guilty to lying to the FBI about undermining foreign relations by negotiating with Russia before Trump was in office was “nothing.” Valky was calling you out on your double standard.

                    • Wrong. Get your facts straight. He lied about talking to the Russian ambassador. That is neither illegal, nor undermining foreign relations. There is no evidence he was “negotiating.” Absolutely none. I can’t argue with made up facts and fantasy characterizations. You will find no evidence anywhere that Flynn was “negotiating.”

                      By the way, I had meetings with two foreign ambassadors when I was in Mongolia. Was I negotiating? Prove it.

                      Is there anything more pathetic than people giving each other high fives after they have been owned?

                    • Chris

                      And there’s no evidence Bill Clinton talked to Loretta Lynch about the investigation into his wife on that tarmac. “Appearance of impropriety,” Jack.

                      Is there anything more pathetic than people giving each other high fives after they have been owned?

                      You are literally arguing that it’s OK for Trump to lie about the Times report being fake because doing so owns the libs.

                    • TERRIBLE analogy. Terrible. Lynch is attorney general, and violating an “appearance of impropriety” is a breach of federal law. A presidential candidate, or Flynn, are not governed by an “appearance of impropriety,” nor was there a specific matter where Flynn had a very obvious interest to trigger any appearance concerns. “Appears improper to those who are desperate to find impropriety” is not an ethics standard. Every legal ethics authority agrees that Lynch was conflicted the second she met with Clinton. Quick: who was conflicted when Flynn met with the ambassador?

                      Really, you should stop.

                    • Chris

                      You are simply wrong. Flynn did negotiate and conduct foreign policy with the Russians prior to Trump’s inauguration:

                      It is illegal for a private US citizen, as Mr Flynn was during the transition period, to conduct foreign affairs without the permission or involvement of the US government.

                      According to the charge sheet, Michael Flynn is accused of:

                      falsely telling FBI agents that on or about 29 December 2016 he did not ask Mr Kislyak to “refrain from escalating the situation in response to sanctions that the United States had imposed against Russia that same day”

                      failing to recall that Mr Kislyak had later told him Russia was moderating its response to the sanctions as a result of his request

                      falsely saying that, on or about 22 December 2016, he did not ask Mr Kislyak to “delay the vote on or defeat a pending United Nations Security Council resolution”. The discussion came a day before the Obama administration decided not to veto a resolution asserting that Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territory “had no legal validity”

                      making false statements about the Turkish government’s involvement and supervision of a project that his intelligence company was taking part in.

                      http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-42209758

            • valkygrrl wrote, “Surely the rumor mill has reached even your ears that Tillerson’s plan was one year and out”

              Nope valkygrrl, they don’t bother to share rumors concocted inside the DC beltway way out here in the midwest states, we view rumors as poisonous venom and only for ignorant minds to share.

              valkygrrl wrote, “I do wonder exactly who is showing bias here.”

              Do you know how to keep an idiot busy?

          • Chris

            Zoltar,

            Stop yelling at people.

        • What was it about “say thank-you, Rex!” that confused you?

  6. Other Bill

    Funny how the Left abhors any and all of Trumps appointees until he grows unhappy with them, or reporters say he’s grown unhappy with them. At that point, they become geniuses who are absolutely irreplacable and the only things saving the entire country from ruin. Strange phenomenon.

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