Donald Trump acts as his own anonymous source in meeting with network anchors

The president continues his longstanding tradition of being his own anonymous or pseudonymous source

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published March 1, 2017 2:40PM (EST)

President Donald Trump signs the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) executive order, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Donald Trump signs the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) executive order, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Less than a month after complaining that reporters "make up stories and make up sources," President Donald Trump is now depending on favorable coverage that use an anonymous source — namely, himself.

Prior to his joint address to Congress on Tuesday, the president used a private meeting with national news anchors to speak off the record as a "senior administration official," according to BuzzFeed. "There’s got to be a coming together," Trump told the reporters on background, specifically on issues like immigration reform. Some of his comments were later put back on the record on Tuesday evening, specifically his statement that "the time is right for an immigration bill as long as there is compromise on both sides."

The meeting was attended by Jake Tapper and Wolf Blitzer of CNN, Chuck Todd and Lester Holt of NBC, Jose Diaz-Balart of Telemundo, and Maria Elena Salinas of Univision.

Trump has actually used fake news to spread favorable stories about himself or his projects since as early as the 1980s. He used the pseudonyms "John Barron" and "John Miller" to diffuse negative coverage about matters ranging from his destruction of valuable artwork to the struggles of his Atlantic City casino, send out a trial balloon about having other team owners help pay the salary of a quarterback he wished to draft for his New Jersey Generals football team and even spread baseless gossip about his romantic and sexual exploits.

The ghostwriter who penned Trump's famous book "The Art of the Deal" later recalled that, when he asked Trump about rumors that he used pseudonyms to plant stories about himself, "he smirked and said, 'You like that, do you?'"

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a professional writer whose work has appeared in multiple national media outlets since 2012 and exclusively at Salon since 2016. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012, was a guest on Fox Business in 2019, repeatedly warned of Trump's impending refusal to concede during the 2020 election, spoke at the Commonwealth Club of California in 2021, was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022 and appeared on NPR in 2023. His diverse interests are reflected in his interviews including: President Jimmy Carter (1977-1981), Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak (1999-2001), animal scientist and autism activist Temple Grandin, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (1997-2001), director Jason Reitman ("The Front Runner"), inventor Ernő Rubik, comedian Bill Burr ("F Is for Family"), novelist James Patterson ("The President's Daughter"), epidemiologist Monica Gandhi, theoretical cosmologist Janna Levin, voice actor Rob Paulsen ("Animaniacs"), mRNA vaccine pioneer Katalin Karikó, philosopher of science Vinciane Despret, actor George Takei ("Star Trek"), climatologist Michael E. Mann, World War II historian Joshua Levine (consultant to "Dunkirk"), Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (2013-present), dog cognition researcher Alexandra Horowitz, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson (2012, 2016), comedian and writer Larry Charles ("Seinfeld"), seismologist John Vidale, Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman (2000), Ambassador Michael McFaul (2012-2014), economist Richard Wolff, director Kevin Greutert ("Saw VI"), model Liskula Cohen, actor Rodger Bumpass ("SpongeBob Squarepants"), Senator John Hickenlooper (2021-present), Senator Martin Heinrich (2013-present), Egyptologist Richard Parkinson, Rep. Eric Swalwell (2013-present), Fox News host Tucker Carlson, actor R. J. Mitte ("Breaking Bad"), theoretical physicist Avi Loeb, biologist and genomics entrepreneur William Haseltine, comedian David Cross ("Scary Movie 2"), linguistics consultant Paul Frommer ("Avatar"), Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (2007-2015), computer engineer and Internet co-inventor Leonard Kleinrock and right-wing insurrectionist Roger Stone.

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