From The Washington Post — Written by Philip Bump — Image courtesy of Saul Loeb/Agence France-Presse
To believe Donald Trump, you must believe two largely contradictory things.
You must believe that there are a slew of leakers in the executive branch who are providing damning details to the press illegally, and who must be rooted out and punished.
You must also believe that the press makes up imaginary leakers simply to slowly and incrementally report false stories that are tangentially embarrassing to the president.
Trump, unlike most politicians and, frankly, most people, will nonchalantly argue two logically inconsistent points at the same time. On the campaign trail, he mastered the art of vague assurance that he stood for whatever his audience stood for, and, in office, that skill doesn’t seem to have faded. If it is best that people think a leak was made up by the media then Trump will argue that the media made it up. If the leak is incidental to him or if he’d like to put the heat on someone else he’ll argue that the leakers need to be caught.
As Trump knows, though, there are many reasons for someone to provide information without wanting to be identified. Trump himself used to call news outlets pretending to be his own publicist so that he could share details without revealing the source. And while Trump administration officials often speak on the record to the media, they nearly as often speak only on background as “senior administration officials,” faceless voices praising Trump without being able to be held accountable for what they said. It happens so often that the abbreviation “SAO” is understood immediately by the press.
Incidentally, for those curious about why Trump might think that someone would create a fictitious source to make a ridiculous claim, there is this: