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Politics

Trump tweetstorm accuses media of inventing leaks

Commentary: The US president, who once said he loves WikiLeaks, believes that many of the current leaks to newspapers are fake.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


When is a leak a fake leak?

Sean Gallup, Getty Images

A report emerged on Saturday that US President Donald Trump was considering the idea of lawyers vetting his tweets.

It's tantalizing to wonder what this might look like.

However, no sooner had the president returned from his nine-day overseas trip than he was back on his iPhone tweeting away.

In a storm of Sunday morning tweets, the president railed at the media. Why? Perhaps because it was publishing more and more leaks from government officials -- the latest being that Trump's son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, allegedly wanted to use secret communication channels to chat with the Kremlin.

In a three-tweet outburst, the president said: "It is my opinion that many of the leaks coming out of the White House are fabricated lies made up by the #FakeNews media."

"Whenever you see the words 'sources say' in the fake news media," he continued, "and they don't mention names, it is very possible that those sources don't exist but are made up by fake news writers. #FakeNews is the enemy!"

The president is, of course, right. It's entirely possible that some so-called sources whose words make it into the media don't exist.

But then who's to decide which sources are credible and which aren't? Trust in every institution is being eroded these days.

Some might be reminded of this pre-presidential Trump tweet from 2012: "An 'extremely credible source' has called my office and told me that #BarackObama's birth certificate is a fraud."

This source proved to be not quite so credible. It's worth knowing your leaker. One has to hope that papers such as The Washington Post and The New York Times perform due diligence.

The president has sometimes been very pro-leak. In 2016, he expressed his extreme fondness for the drippings out of WikiLeaks. Again, some of those drippings were questionable.

Some, therefore, might conclude that Trump turning to Twitter to express his doubts about specific leaks to specific media might be an expression of his inner concern.

Indeed, conservative columnist Bill Kristol offered his own tweeted view: "Trump's panicked tweets this morning suggest that things are really bad."

Yet again, though, the president chooses to use Twitter, rather than an interview, a press conference or even a video statement to offer his views spontaneously and directly to his supporters (and a few other onlookers).

If his preferred social medium was taken away from him -- or strictly edited -- what would he do?

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