Over the holiday weekend, Yashar Ali, a writer at New York Magazine and HuffPo, claimed he had a smoking gun recording of a White House background briefing that proved President Trump lied when he refuted something reported in the New York Times. The only problem is that — in the apparent hope no one would actually listen to his “smoking gun” recording — Ali made it all up.
The storm began Friday when the far-left New York Times published a piece mischaracterizing a background briefing from a “senior White House official.” According to the Times, this senior official told reporters that even if the meeting with North Korea was “reinstated, holding it on June 12 would be impossible, given the lack of time and the amount of planning needed.”
Here is the full Times’ excerpt:
As with so many issues involving this president, the views of his aides often have little effect on what he actually says. On Thursday, for example, a senior White House official told reporters that even if the meeting were reinstated, holding it on June 12 would be impossible, given the lack of time and the amount of planning needed.
On Friday, Mr. Trump said, ‘It could even be the 12th.’
The whole point of the Times’ article is to portray Trump as an amateur and buffoon whose “improvisational approach to diplomacy” is creating “deep divisions among his advisers about the risks of going ahead.”
Obviously, if a senior White House is indeed using the word “impossible” to describe Trump’s desire to hold on to his June 12 summit with North Korean leader King John Un, there are some divisions.
But here is the thing: the Times’ story is not even close to true, which Trump himself was eager to point out Saturday morning via his Twitter account.
“The Failing @nytimes quotes ‘a senior White House official,’ who doesn’t exist, as saying ‘even if the meeting were reinstated, holding it on June 12 would be impossible, given the lack of time and the amount of planning needed.’ WRONG AGAIN! Use real people, not phony sources,” Trump said.
The Failing @nytimes quotes “a senior White House official,” who doesn’t exist, as saying “even if the meeting were reinstated, holding it on June 12 would be impossible, given the lack of time and the amount of planning needed.” WRONG AGAIN! Use real people, not phony sources.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 26, 2018
The factual question is now a simple one: did a senior White House official characterize a June 12 summit as “impossible,” or not?
Enter Yashar Ali, who used his verified Twitter account to dramatically rush to the rescue of the Times.
“I’ve obtained audio of the WH press briefing,” Ali breathlessly reported. ” You can hear Raj Shah, Deputy Press Secretary, introduce Pottinger … and then Pottinger makes the statement that POTUS says was never made.”
So according to Ali, the Times is telling the truth and Trump is lying. In other words, a senior White House official did indeed characterize the June 12 summit as “impossible.”
If you actually go to the trouble of listening to Ali’s embedded audio, which he did not bother to transcribe in his Twitter thread, “impossible” is not even close to what the White House official said.
Here is the actual transcript:
[T]he ball is in North Korea’s court right now. And there’s really not a lot of time — we’ve lost quite a bit of time that we would need in order to, I mean, there’s been an enormous amount of preparation that’s gone on over the past few months, at the White House, at State, and with other agencies and so forth. But there’s a certain amount of actual dialogue that needs to take place at the working level with your counterparts to ensure that the agenda is clear in the minds of those two leaders when they sit down to actually meet and talk and negotiate, and hopefully make a deal. And June 12 is in 10 minutes, and it’s going to be, you know… But the President has said that he has, someday, that he looks forward to meeting with Kim.
That is it.
That is all this White House official said.
And it is nothing less than fake news for the New York Times to characterize someone laying out the hurdles and difficulties ahead, someone explaining how hard everyone is working to pull this off, as something else — as someone throwing up their hands to declare the whole thing “impossible.”
The White House official does not even sound exasperated. Rather, he sounds committed and determined to making the June 12 deadline.
What this White House official said is not even in the same ballpark as “impossible,” and for the New York Times to intentionally mischaracterize in that way is bad enough. For Ali to grab his own flaming piece of fake news, jump on a white horse, and gallop to the Times’ rescue (all in the in the apparent hope no one would bother to listen too closely to his “evidence”) is nothing less than an audacious act of journalistic malpractice.