White House reporters from seemingly both sides of the political spectrum suggested this weekend that President Trump had invented his own scandal. On Friday, Trump went on a Twitter rampage about Bloomberg leaking off-the-record remarks from an Oval Office interview.
But by the end of the day, many reporters had cried foul. And now, the reporter for the Toronto Star who ran with the OTR comments, is saying Bloomberg never gave him the quotes.
Still can’t believe that Bloomberg violated a firm OFF THE RECORD statement. Will they put out an apology?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 1, 2018
The Toronto Star published off-the-record remarks from Bloomberg‘s White House interview. The gist of that was that Trump would strong-arm Canada — that any deal would be “totally on our terms.”
The Washington-based reporter who wrote the story, Daniel Dale, insisted Saturday that Bloomberg was not the leaker.
I’d said I wasn’t going to say anything about my source for the quotes Trump made off the record to Bloomberg.
However, I don’t want to be party to the president’s smearing of excellent, ethical journalists. So I can say this: none of the Bloomberg interviewers was my source.
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) September 1, 2018
“Let’s not discount the possibility that Trump’s famously leaky White House, and not Bloomberg, was itself responsible for breaking the rules here,” wrote David Martosko, U.S. political editor for Daily Mail. “Bloomberg has zero incentive to drop off-the-record quotes to a competitor (The Toronto Star).”
Martosko, who is typically on the right-wing side of political reporting, added, “Even more likely is that Trump himself put this in circulation. He has the incentive to do it since the quote gives him a way to get a pre-election ‘win’ that is modest but face-saving.”
New York Times political reporter Maggie Haberman, who often points out what a liar Trump is, also strongly suggested this Friday.
“This literally never happens, that the OTR portions of these interviews leaks,” she wrote. “Most people close to White House have raised possibility that Trump ordered it put out.”
CNN Politics Breaking News Editor Kyle Feldscher also jumped on the bandwagon. It’s no secret that CNN is at odds with Trump, who readily refers to the network as “fake news.”
“The idea that Bloomberg would willingly just gift a scoop to a competitor while at the same time breaking an off-the-record agreement with the president is really just mind boggling,” he wrote.
By and large, reporters who accused the White House of, say, monkeying around, with the interview, were in agreement that Bloomberg is not to blame.
“Zero percent chance Jen or Margaret broke an off the record. Either came from a WH official or from a screw up in Bloomberg’s internal handling of their interview transcript,” wrote Axios‘ White House correspondent Jonathan Swan, who has no trouble getting insider-y scoops from this White House.