The Good Life: Wish I Knew Trump’s Sources
I wish that I would have known President Trump’s news sources way back when I was a reporter.
You know those sources. Their names are “Jim” and “People.”
President Trump refers to them all the time.
“My friend Jim told me that,” Trump has been wont to say. “Jim” made a prominent appearance in Trump-speak back in 2017, according to Lauren Collins in New Yorker magazine.
Here is Trump’s soliloquy: “I said, ‘Jim, let me ask you a question: How’s Paris doing?’
‘Paris? I don’t go there anymore. Paris is no longer Paris.’ ”
This statement came just after a kerfuffle between Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron. Trump wanted to bash France, but needed a “source.”
Back when I reported on city council meetings, I would return to the newsroom and say, “The people in the audience were really mad.” Then I would write that.
My editor would holler at me.
We don’t quote anything called “the people,” he would say. We quote people by name.
Anonymous sources? The big boys in the national media use “persons not authorized to speak on the record” all the time. I think they make up some of those people. That’s part of why I don’t trust them very much. On the local level, you just can’t do that. People know who “Jim” is — or that there is no “Jim.”
Does Trump make up the sources for his comments? Well, besides his friend “Jim,” there are “people.”
The President quoted “People” again earlier this month. Sir Kim Darroch, the British ambassador, had described the Trump administration as “inept” and “incompetent.”
After Darroch resigned rather than imperiling relations between the United States and Britain, Trump quoted his “people” source.
“Some people just told me,” Trump said on July 12, ” … they said he actually said very good things about me.
Trump claimed Darroch’s “inept” comment was aimed at others in the White House. He knew that because “some people” told him that.
But we have no idea who “some people” are.
Gee, if I had known who “Jim” and “People” are, I would not have had to sit through all those l-o-n-g meetings, all those court trials, etc.
I could have just called “Jim” or some of those “people,” and printed what they told me.
But I was not born a millionaire into a family of millionaires. I had to actually go out and find real folks, then name them.
Back in 2016, “he says what he thinks” was what adorers of President Trump said they liked about him.
Now, in 2019, we know that Trump repeats, very solemnly, what “Jim” and “People” tell him is the truth. He does not think up these things himself, because then he might be accountable for what he says.
Presidents can do that, I guess.
Last week, the President introduced us to more members of “people’s” extended family. We had already met “some people.” Now, we heard about “many people.”
Trump said that four freshman Democratic members of the House “hate America.” All are women of color.
As The New York Times reported, “Asked whether he was concerned that his comments were racist, Mr. Trump said, ‘It doesn’t concern me, because many people agree with me.”
No names, of course.
And technically, Trump is on solid ground. He didn’t make racist remarks. He did make insulting, unacceptable, un-American insults to American citizens, three of them native-born – because they attacked him and Trump punches back at anyone who disagrees. That is not racism. It is bigotry, but it is equal opportunity bigotry.
Other Americans do agree that folks who look, talk or think differently should leave the United States.
Bigots abound. Some belong to the Republican Party or the Democratic Party. Bigots have a right to live here and to express their opinions. But when we hear bigotry, we too have a right. We have the right to say, “Bigot!”
As the late, great Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan was wont to suggest, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”
I looked at what those four women have said about America, and about Trump. I disagree with almost everything they said about how they might govern the country – but they have as much right to say what they said as I do, or as President Trump does.
The four Democrats are women. Might Trump be a misogynist, a male supremacist? Sure. Trump’s own infamous “grab them” words on tape support that.
Porn star Stormy Daniels, with whom Trump probably had sex, became in Trump’s words, “Horseface.” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat and foe of Trump, is “Pocahontas.” This goes beyond race. It is equal opportunity bigotry.
How do I know this?
I just this minute heard it — from “Jim” and from “some people.”
Denny Bonavita is a former editor at newspapers in DuBois and Warren. He lives near Brookville. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.