First Ronny Jackson was a dedicated and well-respected White House physician to George W. Bush and Barack Obama. When Donald Trump nominated him to run the VA — a strange choice, to be sure — suddenly Ronny Jackson was a boozing, pill-tossing danger to everyone, especially behind the wheel of Secret Service vehicles. After Admiral Jackson withdrew from the nomination, the Secret Service and White House announced that no evidence exists for some of the more spectacular allegations against him.
Nevertheless, as Jazz noted this morning, media outlets reported that Jackson would leave the White House, having been broken by the smears and innuendo. That turned out to be as reliable as, well, the smears and innuendo:
MORE: Dr. Jackson will rejoin White House as member of medical unit staff; former Navy officer Sean Conley, who took over as Pres. Trump's physician in anticipation of Jackson's confirmation process, will remain in the role, White House source confirms. https://t.co/Z5xVllRXWc
— ABC News (@ABC) April 30, 2018
ABC’s tweet makes it sound as though Jackson accepted a demotion. Time Magazine reports that the White House insists that Jackson’s status hasn’t changed at all:
The White House pushed back on reports that White House physician Ronny Jackson would not be returning to his role after a string of reports about his conduct led him to withdraw from consideration to head up the Department of Veterans Affairs.
On Sunday, Politico first reported that Jackson would remain within the medical unit of the White House, but he would not be serving as the president’s personal doctor going forward. The White House said Monday that it has no personnel changes to announce.
“Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson is currently on active duty, assigned to the White House as Deputy Assistant to the President,” said White House spokesperson Raj Shah. “Despite published reports, there are no personnel announcements at this time.”
So what’s the truth here? Who knows? All we do know is that any reports on Admiral Ronny Jackson that make it into the media have an expiration date of about twelve hours now. No one would blame him if he did walk away, of course, and perhaps he still may. The fact that the White House still wants him in his old job — and that the Secret Service and US Navy will apparently allow him to remain this close to Trump — speaks to the quality of the anonymous and politically convenient allegations released by Democrats on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.
Scott Jennings, who worked for the George W. Bush White House, rips the media and Sen. Jon Tester for “shameful smearing” of Jackson at CNN. Want to know how we got Trump, the former Bush adviser asks? This is how:
Montana Senator Jon Tester in particular ought to be ashamed of publicly airing unproven allegations against a Navy Admiral and doctor who has served his nation and three Commanders-in-Chief with honor. Tester sullied the reputation of a good man and no doubt chilled many people who ever had a fleeting thought of offering themselves up for public service.
Where does Jackson go to get his reputation back? Nowhere. The Internet is forever. I don’t know if Dr. Jackson was the right man to lead the VA or not. That’s what confirmation hearings are for — to discuss candidates’ qualifications and assess their fitness. Clearly, Jackson should have been vetted, just as any presidential nominee should head to Capitol Hill. …
These allegations were so outrageous that Jonathan Swan, the reporter from Axios who broke the original story that Jackson’s nomination was in trouble, refused to print them. In an interview with Fox News, Swan expressed a “sense of deep concern and anger” about how Tester and the media circulated the accusation against Jackson “because I broke that stupid story on Sunday… [that] his confirmation is in peril…The reason I wrote it that way is not because I didn’t know what the allegations were. I was given them on Friday. I knew what these allegations were. But I don’t know if they are true … So I’m not just going to go, ‘Well, it’s alleged, and I am hearing that this guy did all of these terrible things, and x, y, and z,’ because I have no idea if it’s true or not. And clearly neither does Jon Tester. Surely, this is a problem.”
Yes it is, especially given the curious timing of Jackson’s upcoming confirmation and the oddly dissonant praise Jackson received from Barack Obama:
Obama called Dr. Jackson “a most impressive leader,” recommended him for promotion, and praised his “incredible work ethic and follow-through.”
Some of these compliments and recommendations came after the supposed car wrecks and door-banging incident; that’s hardly the kind of endorsement one gets from the President of the United States after making a habit of acting recklessly.
Anyway, Jackson has nowhere to go to get his reputation back, and we’ve proven once again that salacious sells in the media, regardless of whether it can be corroborated. One might have expected the media to learn a lesson about anonymously sourced dossiers last year, but noooooooooo. About the only thing we’ve learned is not to trust the media when it comes to reporting on Ronny Jackson. And, increasingly, anything else having to do with the Trump administration.