Accuracy in Media

The Atlantic relied on anonymous sourcing for a longform article about former Gen. James Mattis, putting words into Mattis’ mouth projecting criticism of President Donald Trump that Mattis did not make.

MSNBC host Chris Matthews repeated The Atlantic’s claim that “[Mattis’] aides and friends say he found the president to be of limited cognitive ability, and of generally dubious character.”

The problem with those characterizations? They go against what The Atlantic author Jeffrey Goldberg reported about Mattis’ own words about loyalty toward President Trump in an interview with Goldberg:

“‘Do you know the French concept of devoir de réserve?’ [Mattis] asked.

“‘I did not,’ I said.

“‘The duty of silence. If you leave an administration, you owe some silence. When you leave an administration over clear policy differences, you need to give the people who are still there as much opportunity as possible to defend the country. They still have the responsibility of protecting this great big experiment of ours. I know the malevolence some people feel for this country, and we have to give the people who are protecting us some time to carry out their duties without me adding my criticism to the cacophony that is right now so poisonous.’”

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