You know how all week, the mainstream media has been pushing stories about how Donald Trump is on the verge of firing White House Chief of Staff John Kelly? No, you don’t, because that storyline largely hasn’t existed in the media. Except now it’s about to become a front page story, because Trump just went out of his way to refute the story – even though it didn’t exist at the time he opened his mouth.
There have clearly been problems brewing between Trump and Kelly behind the scenes over the past week. There was the incident with Kelly being bumped off Air Force One at the last minute, which the media lazily let slide after Sarah Huckabee Sanders made a lame excuse for it. There was the curiously timed leak about Kelly’s cellphone having been hacked this past summer, a leak that was rather transparently aimed at scandalizing Kelly, and could only have come from inside the Trump administration. But the media just refused to run with the story despite the prodding. Then came last night.
Out of nowhere, Trump tweeted “The Fake News is at it again, this time trying to hurt one of the finest people I know, General John Kelly, by saying he will soon be fired. This story is totally made up by the dishonest media.The Chief is doing a FANTASTIC job for me and, more importantly, for the USA!” Okay, so this is a new strategy. If he couldn’t leave enough breadcrumbs to get the media to start talking about whether he’s going to fire John Kelly, he instead decided to just pretend the story is already in the headlines so he could refute it – thus thrusting it into the headlines.
It’s up to you to figure out if Donald Trump really is looking to get rid of John Kelly, or if he’s merely trying to use this as a distraction from his feud with Rex Tillerson, or some other scandal that’s going poorly for him. Either way, Trump has created a new scandal by refuting a media report about Kelly that didn’t even exist at the time. This is…bizarre.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report