Most of the mainstream media has been outraged by President Trump’s conduct as well as his attacks on the press. Yet, truth be told, the media keeps playing into Trump’s hands. The media undermines it creditability when it offers up poorly-sourced hit pieces that reinforce the common public perception that the media are hopelessly biased hacks.

For a case in point, take the New York Times story suggesting a podiatrist diagnosed Donald Trump with bone spurs in 1968 and wrote a letter that got Trump classified as unfit for service (and ineligible for the draft.) The doctor’s diagnosis was allegedly a favor to Fred Trump,  in exchange for lower rent and personal service from the Trump family.

This story distracts from several substantive issues the President must address. The President’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen has cooperated with Federal prosecutors and implicated him in a felony. Cohen has also cooperated with the Special Counsel and the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York. The stock market has been in a slump, erasing most of the gains since the President took office. The President has faced serious questions from Congressional allies over his decision to resign from Syria. The most respected member of the administration, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, has resigned. While this was going on, the third government shutdown of 2018 got started with Trump having pre-accepted responsibility for it.

In short, there a plethora of legitimate criticism and issues for this President. Instead, New York Times Reporter Steve Eder decided to write this story. It offers no proof for the allegation it offered. Instead, it relies entirely on the testimony of the daughters of podiatrist Larry Braunstein (deceased in 2007) who insist it was family lore that the diagnosis was a favor to Fred Trump, from whom Braunstein rented his office.  In the ninth paragraph, the New York Times story contains this line:

No paper evidence has been found to help corroborate the version of events described by the Braunstein family, who also suggested there was some involvement by a second podiatrist, Dr. Manny Weinstein.

There is no evidence that Braunstein or Weinstein (deceased in 1995) wrote the letter for Trump’s draft board or ever saw him. Mr. Eder decided it was a good idea to publish an allegation against the President of the United States based on “family lore” that is, on pure hearsay.

Aspects of the story are hard to follow. Maybe I don’t know understand New York values, but you’d think a doctor would want his family to respect him. It seems odd to me that he’d let everyone in the family know he’d falsified medical reports. Though maybe, in left-wing New York values, breaking the law is honorable if it’s done to help out a celebrity. According to Eder:

She said her father was initially proud that he had helped a “famous guy” in New York real estate. But later, her father, a lifelong Democrat who had served in the Navy during World War II, grew tired of Donald Trump as he became a fixture in the tabloid gossip pages and a reality television star, she said. The daughters, both Democrats, say they are not fans of Mr. Trump.

According to Dr. Braunstein’s daughters, as a medical professional licensed by the state of New York, Braunstein helped create a false report that exempted Trump from the draft. It may have gotten someone else drafted, sent overseas, and killed or wounded.  According to his daughters, Dr. Braunstein decided to break the law and play God with people’s lives so he could pay cheaper rent and get fast help from the landlord if the plumbing broke. According to his daughters, he bragged about it for years telling his entire family about his crime and only felt any regret when Trump appeared in the tabloids too many times.  If this story is true, President Trump is far from the worst person in this story.

Besides, I doubt the Trumps provided rent discounts and personalized services for nearly forty years. Based on his behavior since 2016, Donald Trump doesn’t seem like a “lifelong loyalty” sort of guy.

The bottom line is there’s no evidence to support this assertion and reasons to doubt it. Throughout the story, the appropriate disclosures are pressed to avoid a libel lawsuit by making the headline a question and making clear in later paragraphs that there’s no evidence or corroboration of this story outside of two anti-Trump registered Democrats saying their father told them about this. Contrary to the New York Times’ famous motto, this story is fit to save in case you ever find evidence to support it.

I’ll admit Trump’s diagnosis with a convenient case of bone spurs while he was of draft age raises a lot of questions. This story doesn’t answer them. Instead, it distracts from real issues while offering only hearsay and innuendo. Steve Eder had no business writing this abomination against journalism. The editorial staff of the New York Times had no business publishing it. And no news organization had any business uncritically passing along this disgraceful tripe.

Mr. Eder and company are why people believe the state propaganda “journalism” practiced by most of Fox News or the inane ramblings of Alex Jones. This hit piece is why the people nod in agreement when Trump declares the press “the Enemy of people.” If the mainstream media truly wants to check the spread of  “fake news,” it needs to take a hard look in the mirror. This irresponsible piece and others like it do more to undermine confidence in a free press than President Trump ever would.

Photo credit: Joe Haxor (CC-By-SA 3.0)

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