Sunday morning began with President Donald Trump claiming on Twitter that the Washington Post publishes "made up garbage," and that it was filled with "far more fiction than fact."
The rage-filled tweet came on the heels of a damning report by the Post on Saturday in which more than a dozen administration officials and outside presidential advisers illustrated a dramatic downward spiral for White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.
Kelly has threatened to quit his post on multiple occasions, and most recently, "blew up" in a heated argument with the president in the Oval Office on March 28, which was first reported by Axios.
But the Post's report soon afterwards offered a deeper look inside the "downward arc of Kelly’s eight months in the White House," and how "his credibility and his influence have been severely diminished."
Trump has instead been emboldened to act on his own, and a beleaguered Kelly has remained less engaged, and often left out of the loop entirely.
The Post elaborated:
Kelly neither lurks around the Oval Office nor listens in on as many of the president’s calls, even with foreign leaders. He has not been fully consulted on several recent key personnel decisions. And he has lost the trust and support of some of the staff, as well as angered first lady Melania Trump, who officials said was upset over his sudden dismissal of Johnny McEntee, the president’s 27-year-old personal aide.
No one knows how many days remain for Kelly, but when he leaves — either by the president’s hand or because of his own mounting frustration — he is almost certain to limp away damaged.
The reports only further highlighted Kelly's dwindling role and influence, and starkly contrast the narrative often pushed when he first left the Department of Homeland Security last summer. Much of the mainstream media sold Kelly as a level-headed military veteran that would be able to rein in an ambitious and wildly unpredictable president with no prior experience in public office. In recent months, it's quite evident that narrative has all but expired.
But aside from all of the Kelly-drama, Trump's attacks towards media outlets and newspapers show no signs of coming to a halt anytime soon. And the buried story in all of this is that the president has openly and unapologetically waged war against the free press, while he has defended and praised media coverage that has not challenged his administration. Trump has also repeatedly taken aim particularly at the Post as of late, as well its owner, Amazon chief executive, Jeff Bezos.
Trump's tweets about the Post have coincided with a report from Bloomberg Government, which revealed that the Department of Homeland Security "wants to monitor hundreds of thousands of news sources around the world and compile a database of journalists, editors, foreign correspondents, and bloggers to identify top 'media influencers.'"
The story was met with outrage from members of the media, and a spokesperson for the DHS quickly responded to the reactions and indicated that what the department plans to compile was just "standard practice."
Trump's hostility towards the media, and specifically towards outlets that have covered his administration in an unflattering light, is certainly alarming and detrimental to a free and open press.