Jeffrey Goldberg’s claim that President Trump disparaged American soldiers who died in Normandy is collapsing. As we have noted, John Bolton, no friend of Trump, was present when the president allegedly made the comment. Bolton says it didn’t happen.
Similarly, former Deputy White House Chief of Staff Zach Fuentes, who was also in the room, denies that Trump made the remarks attributed to him. He says:
I did not hear POTUS call anyone losers when I told him about the weather [in France]. Honestly, do you think General Kelly would have stood by and let anyone call fallen Marines losers?
Of course not. Fuentes, by the way, is unhappy with Trump over his treatment of Gen. Kelly. Thus, Fuentes has no incentive to defend Trump in this matter, other than regard for the truth.
Dan Rather inadvertently provides further evidence that Goldberg’s claim is falling apart. Earlier, as we noted, Rather tweeted that the story had seemingly been “confirmed” by other sources. Now, Rather is falling back on a variation of “fake but accurate” — the “defense” of Rather’s 2004 story about George W. Bush’s military service.
“Whether [Trump] said it or not, it is believable,” Rather told callers to a show he was hosting. Later, Rather cited the “terrible things” Trump said about Senator John McCain.
But Trump had a beef with McCain, whom he regarded as a rival and then a foe. Trump often disparages rivals and foes. There is no pattern of him disparaging bystanders, much less brave soldiers who have been dead for many decades.
In any case, the standard in journalism shouldn’t be whether a story is believable, but whether it is supported by non-fabricated evidence. Dan Rather was fired because he didn’t honor this distinction.
Clearly, he hasn’t learned his lesson. But then, he has little to lose these days.