It’s fairly common in politics for aides to use the press to try to send messages to their candidate. After Trump’s disastrous debate performance, aides publicly and privately made it clear that Trump’s debate performance was disastrous. Here’s a CNN report that was published on Thursday afternoon:
The pushback comes amid reports that advisers hoped Trump’s missteps against Clinton in the first debate would convince the Republican nominee to concentrate on his message and tactics before they debate again. Aides had said Tuesday and earlier Wednesday that they have delivered the message (gingerly, one said) that the first debate didn’t go well.”Yes, he’s been made aware,” one adviser said.
But Trump is clearly not happy with this political convention. According to the same CNN report, he made it clear that aides were not, under any circumstance, to concede that the debate, which was lost, was lost. In a conference call, surrogates and aides were told to stop admitting that Trump lost and instead that Trump “successfully reinforced his outsider status, contrasting him with Clinton as a status quo candidate.”
But Donald Trump is not someone who can live with such reports circulating. Which helps to explain the series of tweets he sent in the middle of the night and early morning on Friday.
Got that? Don’t believe the reports that are circulating that say that Donald Trump lost the debate because Donald Trump didn’t say them.
This is obviously not how journalism works, and Trump, as someone who has repeatedly gone off the record with journalists over the last four decades, knows as much. But Trump’s biggest campaign tactic is gaslighting, so this is par for the course.
That said, if we shouldn’t treat anonymous sources as liars, then what are we to make of this tweet?