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Trump's new conspiracy theory: the NYT wrote its own infamous op-ed

The more Donald Trump accuses journalists of making up quotes and sources, the more we're reminded of his unfortunate habit of making up quotes and sources.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump listens to his mobile phone during a lunch stop, Feb. 18, 2016, in North Charleston, S.C. (Photo by Matt Rourke/AP)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump listens to his mobile phone during a lunch stop, Feb. 18, 2016, in North Charleston, S.C.

About a month ago, the New York Times published a rather extraordinary op-ed, written by "a senior official in the Trump administration," describing a White House in which "many" officials work diligently behind the scenes to subvert Donald Trump.

The author explained that such steps are necessary because the president, as described in the op-ed, is a dangerous, amoral, and unprincipled buffoon who is acting "in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic."

After the piece was published, Trump suggested the New York Times may have committed "treason" by agreeing to run it, and his team scrambled to identify its author.

This morning, the president called into Fox News again, sharing his theory about who may have ultimately been responsible for the piece.

"Let me tell you about leaks. I think a lot of leaks are not leaks, they're made up by newspapers.... The media is very, very dishonest, beyond anything that anybody can understand. Now, even the letter written to the Times, there is a chance -- I don't say it's a big chance -- but there is a very good chance that it was written by the Times. [...]"It could've been the New York Times wrote it, to be honest. They're a very dishonest paper."

Later, in the same interview, Trump insisted that major news organizations and prominent book authors "literally make up" quotes and sources. "They're like novelists," he added.

The idea that the New York Times was responsible for writing its own op-ed is obviously foolish, even by this president's standards, but in light of Trump's preoccupation with made-up quotes and sources, this is probably a good time to point out that Trump is accusing journalists of doing what he's spent much of his term doing.

As regular readers may recall, Bloomberg News had an interesting report a couple of months ago on Trump’s “anonymous validators” – a group of powerful, unnamed business executives, who lead companies he won’t identify, and who secretly endorse the president’s policies, even when they adversely effect their own companies’ profits.

We’re not allowed to know anything about these folks, but Trump references them frequently as proof, not only of the wisdom behind his agenda, but also of how much support he enjoys.

By all appearances, it seem likely Trump simply made these people up.

It's part of a pattern of his made-up conversations. In June, for example, he described a chat with “Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon that Trump made up. In August the president described a phone conversation with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto that, in reality, never occurred. Before that, Trump was excited about a phone call he’d received from the head of the Boy Scouts, which also hadn’t happened.

In July 2017, he offered details of a phone conversation with the head of a large nation, with over 300 million people, who complained to the American president about the foreign country’s 9% GDP growth rate. There is no such country. Though Trump talked about the phone call more than once, he made it up.

A year later, he went into quite a bit of detail about the behind-the-scenes discussions he participated in over border-wall construction in California, despite the fact that those conversations apparently weren’t real.

And this doesn't even include the times before his campaign in which Trump took on the persona of a made-up person in order to pretend to be his own publicist.

What was that the president was saying about journalists acting like novelists?