If this week’s media broadside on Trump were a Deep State hit job, then this is how it would proceed. First, an award-winning journalist of Bob Woodward’s august reputation publishes a searing book seemingly substantiating long-held accusations of “dysfunction” in the White House.
Then the next day to consolidate the book’s lurid claims, the New York Times, America’s so-called “paper of record” publishes an oped allegedly by an administration insider essentially “confirming” Woodward’s tell-all account.
What’s more, the sense of paranoia within the Trump administration will now be ratcheted up to levels which make normal staff working and communications almost paralyzed. It’s a perfect psy-ops to explode chaos and mistrust among Trump’s inner circle.
But who really is Bob Woodward? He is famed as one of the Washington Post reporters who exposed the Watergate affair in 1974 which forced then President Richard Nixon to quit office in ignominy. The exposé of Nixon’s wiretapping on Democrat rivals is commonly seen as the high-point of American journalism, and thus Woodward as a paragon of journalistic integrity.
But as Russ Baker contends in his groundbreaking book, Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, the Watergate and Nixon affair is not all that it seems. And neither is Woodward. There is credible evidence that the American Deep State of the military-intelligence apparatus used the Watergate scandal as a way to get rid of Nixon whose febrile mental state was becoming a concern to them. Woodward, who had a background in Navy intelligence was suspiciously a prodigy journalist who rapidly rose to cover what became the scandal that ended Nixon’s presidency.
Woodward’s newly published book on the Trump White House makes a damning case of a president who is allegedly despised and feared by his inner circle. It claims that staff have engineered an “administrative coup” against Trump, preventing him from taking key decisions, and generally portraying him as a farcical figure. The book seeds the concept among the public of a necessary coup against Trump.
This is where Woodward’s prestigious Watergate reputation comes into play. His role in that affair as a supposed champion of truth and of holding power to account is then invoked to give the seal of accuracy to his book on Trump. If Woodward says the president is a basket case, then it must be so, so goes the anticipated general public reaction.
In order to drive the message home, the New York Times follows up with an oped claiming to be written by an anonymous official within the Trump administration who “confirms” what Woodward’s book is claiming.
When the Woodward book came out, there were staunch rebuttals of its claims from senior White House officials. In particular the Defense Secretary James Mattis, who was supposedly one of Woodward’s main sources, saying that Trump was an idiot who wanted to assassinate Syrian President Bashar al Assad. Mattis dismissed the book and its author as having a “rich imagination”. There were also similar putdowns from Trump’s Chief of Staff John Kelly and his ambassador the United Nations Nikki Haley.
Trump himself scorned Woodward’s book, ‘Fear’, as a shoddy “work of fiction”. Thanks to the publicity, the title has become a “best-seller” within days of being published.
The pushback from the Trump White House was of course to be expected, given the claims from such an eminent journalist. That’s why the New York Times oped is a crucial capping on the claims, especially since the oped is supposedly written by a senior administration official.
The New York Times says it knows the name of the official who wrote the piece. But it is not disclosing his or her identity, as the supposed author requests.
The public therefore can’t know the authenticity of the oped. Was it really written by a Trump administration senior official? Or some low-level staff? Or maybe not even an actual member of staff? The author of the oped claims: “I work for the president but like-minded colleagues and I have vowed to thwart parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.”
But the main purpose is the sowing of grave doubt in the public mind and among Trump’s senior staff at the White House. The oped appears to confirm the claims made by Woodward about a dysfunctional president who is being handled by staff working in “resistance” to his “impetuousness” for the “safety of America”. It also goes further by saying that the dysfunction ultimately stems from Trump’s “immorality”.
Ultimately, it is virtually impossible to prove the veracity of Woodward’s book and the subsequent “confirmatory” article in the New York Times. Woodward’s book has been denied by supposedly “key sources”. The authenticity of the author of the New York Times oped is a matter of trust in that newspaper’s editors. The so-called paper of record has lately been a massive purveyor of baseless scare stories slandering Russia. For many critics it is not a reliable nor ethical source, as is claimed.
But the point is that a gravely damaging impact has been inflicted on the Trump presidency. His ability to rebuff critics with his customary braggadocio of slamming “fake news” appears this time to be mortally wounded.
This is not meant to be a defense of the Trump administration nor of this president. Trump’s White House certainly appears to be an unorthodox place, as indicated by the high turnover of senior staff over the past two years since his election.
Trump’s personality certainly comes across as impetuous and petty. His personal life also seems tainted with deceit and lewd scandals.
Nevertheless he is the president that Americans voted for. And so far, he has not done anything out of the ordinary for American presidents. He is the usual run-of-the-mill guardian of big business and the oligarch system of enriching the super wealthy. Trump, like most of his predecessors, should also be prosecuted for war crimes over his bombing of Syria and Yemen. But all those misdemeanors and crimes are par for the course for US presidents.
The one thing that Trump has done out of the ordinary, as far as the Deep State opponents are concerned, is his refusal so far to ramp up aggression with Russia. That has always been the unacceptable problem with Trump as president for the unelected imperial planners of the Deep State.
The so-called “Russiagate” charade has failed to oust Trump due to its embarrassing dearth of evidence on alleged collusion with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. The wider American public have simply not bought into that drama which has been concocted by political and media elites to nix Trump.
Given the futility of those efforts, the Deep State may have now found at last the effective instrument with which to eliminate Trump from the White House. You enlist a “star journalist” with yesteryear’s Deep State operative experience, get the supposed paper of record to quickly “confirm” the salacious details, and then wait for the desired “administrative coup” to become a popularly demanded reality.