Trump’s Shame

Donald Trump, 2/28/17: “We are blessed to be joined tonight by Carryn Owens, the widow of a U.S. Navy Special Operator, Senior Chief William “Ryan” Owens. Ryan died as he lived: a warrior, and a hero — battling against terrorism and securing our Nation. I just spoke to General Mattis, who reconfirmed that, and I quote, ‘Ryan was a part of a highly successful raid that generated large amounts of vital intelligence that will lead to many more victories in the future against our enemies.’ Ryan’s legacy is etched into eternity.”

NBCNews, 3/1/17: “The Pentagon says Navy SEALs scooped up laptops, hard drives and cell phones in last month’s Yemen raid, but multiple U.S. officials told NBC News that none of the intelligence gleaned from the operation so far has proven actionable or vital — contrary to what President Trump said in his speech to Congress Tuesday.”

Neither Owens’ heroism nor the sacrifice of his death are diminished by the success of the raid in which he died. But as I wrote earlier today, this spectacle from President Trump last night was transparently constructed in order to repurpose Owens’ widow’s palpable grief into a heat shield to ward any effort to question the wisdom of the raid or Investigate what happened and why.

Mattis will have to answer for himself if his public statement matches the real after action assessment. But it is noteworthy that Trump laundered his apparent deception through Mattis.

Military missions go wrong. It is always the President’s responsibility. But that doesn’t mean it’s the President’s fault. President Trump has displayed an uncanny refusal to take any responsibility for what happened in this raid, even going so far as to all but deny that he even authorized it. As he said yesterday morning: “This was a mission that was started before I got here. This was something they wanted to do. They came to see me, they explained what they wanted to do ― the generals ― who are very respected, my generals are the most respected that we’ve had in many decades, I believe. And they lost Ryan.”

This is a moment when we’ll see how just how earnest the press is about holding the President to account. This ‘presidential’ moment was the most shameless kind of exploitation and it would seem a straight up lie.

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

Latest Edblog
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Director of Audience:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: