The New York Times and various media outlets are reporting universal denials of the military that there was any evidence to support President Donald Trump’s repeated assertions that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, died “whimpering and crying and screaming all the way” to his death. The embarrassing denials comes after a videotape contradicted Trump’s claim that “almost all” of farmers who attended his signing of an executive order were crying. The videotape shows no one crying. The statement on al-Baghdadi is particularly curious because al-Baghdadi ran down an alley and blew himself up with a suicide vest. Military sources say that there is no evidence of the whimpering and crying described by Trump.
The New York Times relied on multiple sources who were involved in the operation and reviewed the after-action reports. These officials have said the Trump made up the account. When pressed on the accuracy of Trump’s comments, Stephanie Grisham, the White House press secretary, refused to support them and instead attacked the media for “trying to pick apart the details of the death” of the leader of the Islamic State.
The media has a responsibility to confront a president with any statements that appear untrue and, traditionally, the White House Press Secretary has felt an obligation to justify or correct such statements.