Historians will tell you that
In other words, for the people who seem to think that
At the same time, the roaring torrent of leaks from the
In some instances, Trump is right to be angry. The leaking of classified information, including transcripts of his conversations with foreign leaders, is illegal and dangerous.
But in other cases, Trump's anger is aimed at members of his own staff and probably his own family, who use the media to undermine competitors in the administration. Senior adviser
The whole spectacle is actually pretty hilarious. "They shouldn't be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody's name," Trump thundered in a speech in February. "Let their name be put out there." A few weeks later, Trump met in the
Of course, that's not new. All presidents do it. And all administrations give the press information that's "not for attribution."
What's new in this
On Twitter it is common to see people dismiss any inconvenient leak as "fake news" -- the president's favorite term for any inconvenient or unflattering coverage. What seems lost on his knee-jerk defenders is that these leaks are coming from the president's own handpicked team. I've gotten calls from members of the administration on background and I'm not even a political reporter, never mind a particularly sympathetic columnist.
What explains it? Beyond the normal messaging there are several answers. Some reporters I've talked to note that few people in the
Some reporters tell me it's simply "(posterior)-covering." Maintaining good relationships with the press is an insurance policy. It's always useful to have friends in the media, particularly if an administration goes off the rails. Being able to tell reporters, "Well, you know it wasn't me" when stuff hits the fan could save your career. Another explanation is that this kind of palace-intrigue reporting has become a staple of the new media climate.
All these explanations are probably true. But I think the problem ultimately goes back to the president himself. He thrives on drama, particularly drama he creates. He cares about, and monitors, media coverage like no president in American history. Trump likes to pit subordinates against each other, which encourages staffers to be free agents. This dynamic is exacerbated by his glandular zigzagging on policies and his failure to provide a consistent philosophical or policy agenda beyond "make the boss look good." In short, he values loyalty above all else but offers few incentives for it.