At this point, it's a well-known fact that Donald Trump's White House has a "leak" problem. But a recent Politico feature on the strange and often misconstrued relationship this administration has with the press painted a startling picture of what exactly might be happening between the White House and the press. In one of the more bizarre parts of the lengthy and well-researched article, one West Wing insider claimed that White House staffers compete to get the biggest lies printed in news stories as a sort of game. Bustle has reached out to the White House for comment on this allegation. The claim, paired with the rest of the allegations in the article, adds up to a seemingly dystopian White House that couldn't be more different from the prior administration.
The most disturbing section of the long feature is surprisingly short. Quoting an unnamed conservative journalist who is reportedly close with the West Wing, Politico reporters Ben Schrekinger and Hadas Gold claim that this right-leaning journalist told them of a game staffers play wherein they try to get the biggest lies printed, seemingly without any purpose other than for fun. A White House official told Politico that things had been rough between the administration and the press in the beginning, but that it was smoothing out, joking that staffers "probably" weren't intentionally lying to reporters, before saying, "I’m kidding. I’m kidding."
"They all lie," the unnamed insider claimed of White House staffers. "It’s a game to them." This allegation was seconded by another unnamed source, this one a "conservative activist" who said distrust of media contributed to the apparent lies. "They’ll print what they want anyways, so we may as well have fun," the activist claims a staffer said.
Lying to the press is neither new nor the main issue here — it's more that the picture painted by this piece, of seemingly rampant lying with no endgame other than glee over seeing dishonesty in print, seems much more suited to palace intrigue (a term the reporters use more than once) than to an American presidency.
Indeed, to call it "palace intrigue" may understate what this unprecedented relationship between White House staff and press could mean. Not only will reporters aware of this "game" have to work doubly hard to report on real issues, but if these reports are true, and if White House staffers are intentionally lying for sport, it also sets up a smokescreen between the administration and the public.
"Alternative facts are not facts. They are falsehoods," Chuck Todd tells Pres. Trump's counselor Kellyanne Conway this morning. WATCH: pic.twitter.com/Ao005dQ13r— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) January 22, 2017
If this allegation is to be believed, it has massive implications on the already complicated new protocol of reporting on the White House. If staffers are intentionally lying to the press, then all of the information they give to reporters cannot, as another of the Politico sources described, be trusted.