A story published in the Atlantic claims through anonymous sources that President Trump called US soldiers who died in war “losers” and “suckers,” but at least five eyewitnesses have called the allegations false.
With mainstream media often employing what is now commonly called “clickbait” to create a viral response to an article through sensationalist headlines, everyone must be wary of what they read. And Americans are.
In June, a Hill-Harris X poll found that one-third of Americans believed that the media was the “enemy of the people.” And in early August, a Gallup poll and study by the Knight Foundation found that 84 percent of Americans believe that the media is to blame for the political divide in the United States.
One also must be skeptical because such a claim is starkly out of character for a president who, at least in public, has demonstrated to be one of the most military-supporting, law-enforcement-supporting presidents on record, not to mention actions in building up military budgets and overseeing the formation of a new military branch, the US Space Force.
However, in fairness, President Trump can be unpredictable, and the viral effect of the article shows why such claims, true or false, easily captures eyeballs.
The Atlantic, joined the New York Times and the Washington Post, in the practice of quoting anonymous sources, in an article that employed a jingoistic headline alleging President Donald Trump slandered dead US soldiers by calling them “losers” and “suckers” after he scrapped a visit to honor deceased service members at the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris in 2018.
“Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers,” Trump allegedly told aides back in 2018, according to four anonymous sources with firsthand knowledge of the discussion, The Atlantic reported this week.
The article went on to claim that, later, during the same 2018 trip, President Trump allegedly referred to the over 1,800 Marines who lost their lives in the Battle of Belleau Wood in France as “suckers” for getting killed, the Atlantic reported, according to NBC.
At least five witnesses have come forward, publicly going on record to dispute the claims made by the Atlantic.
Purported emails from officials that day, with some portions redacted, state that the reason that Trump did not attend the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial was, in fact, due to bad weather, The Daily Wire reported.
Dan Scavino, White House director of social media, was on the trip. Scavino said, “I was with the President in Paris, France when there was a bad weather call for the helo lift to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery. There is literally not one thing ‘reported’ from France that is accurate or true, 100% complete lies! This is a politically motivated hit piece, on the President of the United States, 60 days before a presidential election. A total disgrace!!”
Stephen Miller, senior adviser to the president, was also on the trip.
“The president deeply wanted to attend the memorial event in question and was deeply displeased by the bad weather call,” Miller told the Washington Examiner.
“The next day, he [Trump] spoke at Suresnes American Cemetery in the pouring rain and refused an umbrella,” Miller added. “No one has a bigger, more loving or more loyal heart for American veterans and fallen heroes than our president.”
A former senior White House official present on the trip said the story was false.
“There were no disparaging comments about the military, people who had lost their lives,” he said. “He was just disappointed. He knew the gravity of what it meant to go visit it.”
A senior military officer assigned to the National Security Council claimed the Atlantic story was false.
“He has nothing but compassion, care, and love for these service members,” the officer said. “I was with him several times when he made those phone calls to families of people who had fallen. He read about them, he wanted to know about them, he asked questions.”
“What animal would say such a thing?” Trump said after returning from a campaign rally on Thursday evening, NBC reported. “And especially since I’ve done more, I think more than almost anybody, to help our military to get the budgets, to get the pay raises for our military. So I just think it’s a horrible thing that they are allowed to write that. We can refute it. We have other people that will refute it.”
“It is a disgraceful situation by a magazine that is a terrible magazine,” President Trump added. “I don’t read it. I just heard about it, but they made it up. Probably it’s a couple of people that have been failures in the administration.”