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Douglas Andrews / Sep. 9, 2020

Trump Didn't Disparage Our Troops

A mountain of on-the-record denials has left the Atlantic's reputation in tatters.

Now that much of the dust has settled from the Atlantic’s dirty hit piece on President Donald Trump, we can decide for ourselves: Do we believe the four “anonymous sources” that Jeffrey Goldberg has staked his reputation on, or do we believe the 21 on-the-record sources who manifestly deny his claims?

When we first reported on this story, only 10 witnesses had come forward to challenge Goldberg’s smear that Trump had, on a 2018 visit to France to commemorate the armistice that ended World War I, called our honored dead “suckers” and “losers” and scrubbed a trip to Aisne-Marne Cemetery because he thought the rain might mess up his hair.

But at some point amid this onslaught of denials — more than a dozen of which are firsthand accounts of the events in question — a defense of Goldberg’s story becomes untenable. That point, we think, is long past. But if anyone still needed convincing, it surely came when White House Deputy Communications Director and Deputy Press Secretary Brian Morgenstern shared a statement from Major General William Matz, secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission, the man who hosted the event at Aisne-Marne.

Matz began by calling the Atlantic article “false” and “despicable,” and his eyewitness account of the president’s words, actions, and behavior is a mortal blow to Goldberg’s reputation as an honest journalist.

“As a former Army infantryman who has flown on many helicopters,” Matz wrote, “I knew that morning the weather was bad and the ceiling was too low for a safe landing that day. … The next day, I hosted President Trump at Suresnes American Cemetery just outside Paris for the widely publicized ceremony commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the end of World War I. I vividly recall greeting him and standing with him in the pouring rain beside the grave of a WWI soldier, as our superintendent briefed the story of the soldier’s life. The President was deeply moved. … After I introduced him, and as the rain continued, he went on to deliver a powerful and very fitting speech during which he directly addressed the World War II veterans in attendance, calling them out by name and thanking them for their service. Throughout the entire visit, President Trump demonstrated heartfelt admiration for our nation’s heroes.”

Matz then recounted an event that took place seven months later at Normandy — the ceremony commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the June 6, 1944, D-Day landings. At that event, he wrote, “President Trump delivered a very moving, inspirational and impactful speech that captured the heart and soul of every combat veteran present. … I received numerous compliments from the veterans immediately after the ceremony about how appreciative and moved they were of the time President Trump personally spent with each, thanking them for their sacrifice and deeds of courage 75 years earlier.”

But, yeah, this is the same commander-in-chief who supposedly said, “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.” The same one who allegedly called the more than 1,800 Marines who died at Belleau Wood “suckers.”

“Those who know President Trump,” General Matz concluded, “know that the anonymous smears peddled by The Atlantic have no basis in fact or reality and do a terrible disservice to journalism and to our veterans, living and deceased.”

When pressed about his anonymous sources, Goldberg finally conceded on Monday “that it’s not good enough.” Yet he’s still hiding behind the weakest of excuses. Such as: “They don’t want to be inundated with angry tweets and all the rest,” and, “They don’t want to interfere in democratic electoral processes.”

Huh? If secretly smearing a sitting president two years after the fact and two months before an election isn’t interfering in our electoral processes, then what on earth is?

No less a lefty than Geraldo Rivera isn’t buying Goldberg’s claims or his excuses, and he put General Matz’s closing comments into more — how shall we say this? — enlisted terms: “Why are all anti-Donald Trump stories based on anonymous sources? Wait, let me answer: Because they’re chicken s—t Trump haters. Shame on the reporters who feed on that steady stream of bulls—t.”

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