The latest tragedy in London was still chaotically unfolding in real time when the first Tweet hit:
With Donald Trump at war with the mainstream media, it figures that he gets his breaking news from the Drudge Report and not The New York Times, The Washington Post, or even his buddy Rupert’s Wall Street Journal.
Never mind that at the point he retweeted Drudge, there were few details of the incident yet available and no official announcement that this was indeed a terror attack.
Pres. Trump has used Twitter to share news report on London incident.
We aren't relaying president's retweet, as the info is unconfirmed.
— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) June 3, 2017
Despite the fact that the mainstream media hadn’t yet reported the story because it was still unconfirmed (yes, the mainstream media does utilize fact checking), it didn’t take the President long to politicize the news for his own purposes. Shortly after the re-tweet came a response directly from Trump himself:
We need to be smart, vigilant and tough. We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 3, 2017
It didn’t matter that the incident hadn’t yet been confirmed as a terror attack. Trump just blithely assumed that it was so he could try to pressure the Supreme Court to reverse the numerous lower court rulings that declared his so-called “Travel Ban” to be an obvious, and illegal, attempt to enact the Muslim ban that he promised numerous times to put in place during his campaign.
Wait, you might say. The President has access to all sorts of classified intelligence information and that could mean that he knows something about this that we civilians don’t yet have access to.
Well, perhaps. That assumes that his own intelligence agencies, whom he’s alienated time and again, actually trust him enough to fully brief him after he’s boastfully leaked classified info to the Russians while they visit him in the Oval Office.
And if the info came from our allies in Britain, it would mean that this is the third time in the last month that he’s publicly leaked classified info from a trusted foreign intelligence service, endangering not only our ongoing information sharing, but in the case of the information leaked to Russia, endangering the lives of embedded intelligence agents on the ground.
A competent president would have waited until the facts were in before jumping to conclusions. Even if it is eventually determined that the London tragedy was an actual terror attack, Trump’s tweets were at best cynically manipulative and at worst, another example of why he can’t be trusted with sensitive information.
Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.