The director of the Secret Service was forced Monday to push back against claims that alleged President Donald Trump and his large family were draining the agency’s budget.
USA Today exclusively reported the claim before it was widely circulated in the media.
What the media said
USA Today’s headline read, “Secret Service depletes funds to pay agents because of Trump’s frequent travel, large family."
The story’s opening paragraph explained:
The Secret Service can no longer pay hundreds of agents it needs to carry out an expanded protective mission — in large part due to the sheer size of President Trump's family and efforts necessary to secure their multiple residences up and down the East Coast.
Other media outlets were quick to pile on.
“Trump and His Family Are Draining the Secret Service’s Budget: Constant travel is pushing the agency to its limit,” the headline and sub-headline at Mother Jones stated.
“President Trump Making the Secret Service Go Broke!!!” Hollywood tabloid TMZ wrote before adding an update.
"The Trumps’ Travels Have Broken the Secret Service Budget,"New York Magazine declared.
"The Secret Service has gone broke protecting Trump," the New York Post said.
Jumped the gun
The headlines and premise of USA Today's story were clear: Trump and his family have drained the Secret Service's budget. However, after USA Today's story was published, Secret Service Director Randolph "Tex" Alles released a statement that unequivocally denied the claims.
"This issue is not one that can be attributed to the current administration's protection requirements alone, but rather has been an ongoing issue for nearly a decade due to an overall increase in operational tempo," Alles wrote.
Alles explained that a large number of his workforce will hit pay caps set by Congress this year due to an increased number of people they need to protect in this administration, which they are required by law to do.
He also said only a legislative solution will fix his drying budget and explained that he has faced similar issues in past years.
The media's trust problem
Before Trump became president, the media already had large trust issues with everyday, blue-collar Americans in the heartland. Those issues appear to be exacerbated more and more each day as the media work to seemingly undermine Trump's administration at every turn.
Paradoxically, the media's work to oppose Trump often backfires and causes more people to support him. Would Trump really have risen to the White House without the media's constant bashing? It's a hypothetical question that we'll never know the answer to.
However, we do know that stretching the truth to push an agenda will erode credibility and allow the sentiments that elected Trump to grow within the average American — even modern Democrats, as was evident in Trump's election.