Here again, there are competing theories among people who know him. One is that Meadows was concerned that Americans weren’t getting the full picture on the president’s health and wanted to offer a more realistic assessment. Another is that Meadows, a lover of political drama, wanted to seed a narrative of the president on the ropes and fighting for his life, setting up the storyline of a triumphant comeback. In reality, the likeliest explanation is that Meadows, having watched the doctors shed little light on Trump’s situation, tried to be helpful by providing some needed context to reporters, but overstepped with his melodramatic wording.

Whatever the case, Meadows erred not only by stepping on the doctors’ statement with his own, but by doing so anonymously, piling enormous confusion on top of an already chaotic moment. That the reporters in the pool agreed to the chief’s ground rules at such a critical time, on such a sensitive subject matter, is bad enough; what’s unfathomable is the top staffer at a White House that regularly disparages anonymous sourcing as “Fake News“ requesting the cover of background to deliver news the entire world was waiting on…

The Trump administration has faced a crisis of credibility since day one. It has peddled lies and misinformation about everything from inauguration crowd sizes to Amy Coney Barrett being a Rhodes Scholar. But nothing could be as consequentially incompetent as providing mixed messages regarding the president’s health while he is hospitalized with a potentially life-threatening illness. And the weight of responsibility does not fall on Trump. It’s not the fault of the White House communications shop or the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany. The blame belongs to Meadows.