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Stelter: The ‘projector in chief’ poses a perpetual challenge for journalists


There was a moment in President Trump’s interview with Laura Ingraham that most people missed. He once again accused credible reporters, this time at the WSJ, of making up information out of whole cloth. “They just make it up,” he said. So he’s claiming that reporters create fictional anonymous sources and launder anti-Trump lies through them. That’s what he’s saying. It is outrageous and offensive. But he has leveled this “made up” allegation dozens of times before.

I’m left wondering: Is this all just a form of projection by the commander in chief, because he makes things up?

Numerous Trump observers, up to and including Nancy Pelosi, have suggested that Trump is “always projecting.” That’s what Pelosi said back in 2016, and she said it again on Sunday. When I searched for the term “projector in chief,” I found commentaries on the websites of Psychology Today, WaPo, and AlterNet, to name a few.

Read more of Sunday’s “Reliable Sources” newsletter… And subscribe here to receive future editions in your inbox…

Did he make it up?

Right now the big question is whether Trump made up his comment about “four embassies” being targeted by Qasem Soleimani. Trump’s track record of dishonesty suggests that he did. He used two weasel words — “I believe” — while making the “four embassies” claim to Ingraham. Unfortunately, Ingraham did not follow up on it at all.

Two of Trump’s top national security officials were on the Sunday shows, and they “are declining to provide evidence of the intelligence used to justify the US drone strike,” CNN’s Devan Cole writes.

“The President never said there was specific intelligence to four different embassies,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper told CNN’s Jake Tapper. But Esper said he shared the president’s belief that the embassies were threatened by Soleimani. “Belief.”

The lead headline in Monday’s WaPo is “Details murky on Iran threat.” I’m sure many Trump supporters are rolling their eyes at the media’s followup coverage about this. But long chapters of American history have been devoted to presidential deceit at wartime. After the “fog of war,” the fog eventually clears and the truth emerges, but the explanations for the Soleimani strike are just getting foggier and foggier with time…

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