The common element in nearly all the major New York Times and Washington Poststories about President Donald Trump this week is that they are based on source documents the outlets cannot authenticate, do not possess, admit are partial, and refuse to share.
Friday’s supposed “bombshell” stories follow the same pattern. The Times reports that Trump told the visiting Russians that former FBI director James Comey was a “nut job,” and that firing him had eased “pressure” in his ability to conduct foreign policy — though the Times takes Trump to mean the legal pressure of the investigation. (That spin makes no sense: firing Comey created more pressure, which was so obvious the Russians joked about it.)
The Times describes its source as “a document summarizing the meeting” that was “circulated” (it does not say by whom). The Times does not have the document. An “American official” simply “read quotations” to the Times.
The Post‘s story, which reports that the probe into potential ties between Russia and the Trump campaign has reached “someone close to the president,” cites “people familiar with the matter.” That does not prove the story is untrue, but the sources are so flimsy that there is no way to have confidence in what the Post calls its “revelation.”