Joe Scarborough, better known by his TV nickname “Morning Joe,” believes Chief White House Strategist Steve Bannon and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus may be behind the leaks that have caused damage to President Trump’s advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner. Bannon and Kushner, who were friendly during the campaign, are locked in a sort of civil war between populist and centrist ideas.
In a recent Washington Post story that once again cited anonymous sources, it was revealed that Special Investigator Robert Mueller will be investigating Kushner’s finances as a part of his larger investigation into alleged Trump-Russia connections. In a discussion about the article, Scarborough accused Bannon as being the source of the leak to the press, and also accused Reince Priebus of leaks later in the conversation,
Scarborough recounted a conversation between Bannon and a close friend. “Steve Bannon told people close to him, friends, he didn’t need to worry about Jared Kushner because he was going to keep leaking Russian stories and that friends reported back to me and reporters reported back to me, I have nothing to worry about. Russia will finish Jared Kushner off,” Scarborough said. He insisted that if Bannon had access to this specific information, he was surely the source of the leak.
There have been reports of a feud between the two West Wing heavyweights. Bannon reportedly called Kushner a “cuck” and a “globalist,” insinuating he is not truly a conservative. Bannon actually explicitly called Kushner a Democrat. This ideological rivalry has created a schism in the White House. Bannon is an alt-right populist, hell-bent on dismantling the political establishment. In some ways, Kushner represents that establishment. Kushner comes from a family of wealthy democrats who often donated heavily to Democratic campaigns. His position in the administration is often to smooth out some of President Trump’s rough edges. At the heart, Kushner is a centrist. Naturally, Bannon hates centrism more than he does liberalism.
While there is an obvious rift between Bannon and Kushner, many believe the leaks may be coming from Obama administration holdovers. Conservative commentator Mark Levin called the alleged surveillance of the Trump campaign the “scandal of the century” and “worse than Watergate.” Surely Obama holdovers have reason to dismantle the Trump administration, and it is entirely possible that they are the source of the leaks.
If Scarborough’s claims are true, Trump’s main concern may not be the Russia probe or even the media itself, but his own cabinet. While Steve Bannon may claim loyalty to President Trump, his true loyalties lie with his rigid ideology. Many conservatives who support Trump overall take issue with his more radical policies, but Bannon takes a no-holds-barred approach. Another important consideration is the identity of the sources referenced by Scarborough. Once again, they are anonymous. Conservatives must be careful not to lambast The Washington Post for its incessant citation of anonymous sources, while praising Scarborough because his anonymous source agrees with them politically.
Another important consideration is the identity of the sources referenced by Scarborough. Once again, they are anonymous. Conservatives must be careful not to lambast The Washington Post for its incessant citation of anonymous sources while praising Scarborough because his anonymous source agrees with them politically.
CNN was forced to retract statements this week regarding former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before Congress. The article claimed Comey’s statements disputed Trump’s assertion that he himself was not under investigation. In reality, Comey’s statements confirmed this assertion. The media has taken an extremely cavalier attitude towards the truth and instead serve as political arms.
The left is intent on destroying President Trump, and are content to speed through standard barriers of journalistic ethics to do so. While freshmen journalism students are taught to rarely trust a source not willing to attach their name to their statements, the top publications are doing just that. Every major story about Trump, Kushner, ties to Russia, and Comey’s firing were based on anonymous sources. Shortly after the Washington Post story broke, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein warned Americans to employ skepticism in relation to anonymously sourced stories. Comey also took the media to task in his testimony, calling a New York Times story regarding the Russia probe “almost entirely false.”
In the past, anonymous sources were reserved for only the most rare and dire circumstances. Today, they are used to push political agendas when reliable individuals don’t give the desired scoop. This makes it increasingly difficult to delineate between those rare but necessary circumstances, and journalistic malpractice. In the interest of regaining the public’s trust in the media, it would behoove publications to stay away from anonymous sources, as enticing as the potential headlines may be.
If Scarborough’s claims are true regarding Bannon, Trump must take action to quell the civil war within his own four walls. In a time where unknown individuals are leaking secret information almost constantly, there can be no tolerance for leaks within the President’s inner circle. Kushner serves a valuable purpose as a centrist in the White House among many populists, not least of which is the president himself. If any media is to be trusted, independent publications must investigate the source of the White House leaks, and restore a semblance of journalistic integrity.