Republicans from Fox’s Brit Hume to GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger(Ill.) have rushed to the defense Fox New reporter Jennifer Griffin, who was attacked by President Donald Trump for simply confirming aspects of the recent explosive story in The Atlantic. My column this weekend discussed the article alleging that Trump has spoken in disparaging terms of our veterans and war dead. Trump called for Griffin to be fired despite other news organizations also reporting that Trump has referred to veterans as “losers” and “suckers.” Trump seemed most upset by the fact that Griffin was saying that she “confirmed” the story when in fact she confirmed comments allegedly made about Vietnam veterans, not the specific alleged comment on war dead in France from World War I. That is a valid point, though likely lost on most citizens who correctly view such references to veterans of any war as vile and disgraceful. Moreover, it is outrageous for a president to call for a respected reporter to be fired for doing her job. Yet, what is most striking is how, again, Trump’s attacks only magnify the attention and damage of the story.
This latest controversy was triggered by an Atlantic article written by the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Jeffrey Goldberg. The article alleges damaging statements by Trump, such as dismissing the dead buried at Aisne-Marne American Cemetery as “losers” and “suckers.”
As many on this blog know, I am a military history nut and sometimes write in military history publications. Aisne-Marne is the resting place of some of our most inspiring heroes from the Battle of Belleau Wood. I will not detail the battle but it was one of the most defining struggles of the United States Marines, and the United States military generally in World War I.
Trump insisted that “Jennifer Griffin of Fox News Did Not Confirm ‘Most Salacious‘ Part of Atlantic Story breitbart.com/2020-election/ via @BreitbartNews All refuted by many witnesses. Jennifer Griffin should be fired for this kind of reporting. Never even called us for comment. @FoxNews is gone!”
His point appears to be that Griffin confirmed from other sources that Trump has made these offensive comments about Vietnam veterans (as have other journalists) but not that he referred to the Aisne-Marne dead as “losers” and “suckers.” She did confirm that Trump did not want to have the flags lowered for John McCain and other aspects of the story.
The failure to confirm the specific and “most salacious” allegation is significant. In fairness to Griffin, however. she makes it clear that she confirmed the statement on Vietnam veterans. The media took off on the “confirmation” story without making the distinction.
As noted in my column, a long list of officials and former officials, including the staunchly anti-Trump former National Security Adviser John Bolton, have denied the story on the comment regarding the World War I fallen. They were with him on this trip and in these meetings. Moreover, they have refuted that suggestion that Trump did not want to attend the ceremony out of concern for his hair (he in fact appeared as ceremonies on the trip in the rain).
Yet, for most Americans, this is like moving about the deck chairs on the Titanic. The confirmed aspects from the statement on Vietnam veterans to the McCain story are deeply disturbing and offensive.
Fox News has correctly rallied around Griffin as have figures on the left and right. This is not the type of unity that Trump should be striving to achieve in the country. Once again, President Trump’s personal attack has rendered his underlying point moot and irrelevant as Republicans and Democrats join in supporting Griffin.
Marine Major Who said I was dead. Send me the mortars and a thousand hand grenades.” It is a demand that no doubt would resonate with President Trump who seems to view the solution to any explosive political controversy as more explosives. However, Hamilton knew who the enemy was and his men knew the cause they were dying for. Hamilton was not asking them to die for him, but for a greater good. Many of those Marines are now buried at Aisne-Marne. That was an example of transcendent leadership that is tragically missing in this controversy.