For once, President Trump doled out less than he got from a critic, but it did him no good with the mainstream media.
In a weekend interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News, President Trump was asked to respond to criticism from retired Navy Adm. William McRaven that the president referring to some members of the media as ‘enemies of the people’ is the “greatest threat” to American democracy he has ever seen.
The president pointed out McRaven was a “Hillary Clinton fan” and an “Obama backer,” then said, “Wouldn’t it have been nice if we got Osama bin Laden a lot sooner than that? Wouldn’t it have been nice? You know, living – think of this – living in Pakistan, beautifully in Pakistan, in what I guess they considered a nice mansion. I don’t know … I’ve seen nicer. But living in Pakistan right next to the military academy, everybody in Pakistan knew he was there.”
Ignoring comments Trump has made on numerous occasions that he has cut aid to Pakistan because it did not help the U.S. with a variety of problems, the media immediately sought to characterize Trump’s remarks as a criticism of McRaven for not finding Bin Laden when finding him was the job of the CIA.
“In this case, the president appeared to not understand that intelligence agencies were responsible for finding Bin Laden. The Special Operations commandos led by Mr. McRaven were in charge of capturing or killing them,” the New York Times’ Eric Schmitt wrote in “Trump’s Criticism of Bin Laden Raid Draws Fire.”
Schmitt’s story began with the suggestion McRaven should be above criticism from Trump no matter what he says.
“He was the man who oversaw the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011,” Schmitt wrote. “As a member of the Navy SEALs, he became renowned as one of the iconic military officers of the post-9/11 era. And after retiring four years ago, Adm. William McRaven took on a huge challenge as chancellor of the sprawling University of Texas system.
“So colleagues and commanders alike found it audacious for President Trump to label McRaven a ‘Hillary Clinton fan’ – and impugn his lifelong nonpartisan political position.”
McRaven has not been nonpartisan since leaving the Navy, particularly where Trump is concerned.
In August, when Trump announced he would revoke the security clearance of former CIA director John Brennan, McRaven wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post that said Brennan, a fierce Trump critic who is under investigation for his role in the Russian election scandal, “one of the finest public servants I have ever known.”
“Therefore, I would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance as well, so I can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency.”
The admiral went on to say a good leader tries to embody the best qualities of an organization, set an example for others and put the welfare of others before his own. But “your leadership … has shown little of these qualities. Through your actions, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation.
“If you think for a moment that your McCarthy-era tactics will suppress the voices of criticism, you are sadly mistaken. The criticism will continue until you become the leader we prayed you would be.”