"Trump points finger at Samsung for missing texts between FBI agent, lawyer engaged in affair," says the headline in the New York Daily News. (The url says "Blames Samsung," which means that was the original headline).
"Donald Trump blames Samsung for lost FBI text messages," CNET.com said.
"Trump appears to call out Samsung over missing FBI text messages," The Hill wrote.
Did Trump do that? Let's examine the facts.
It all started with a late-night post on Twitter in which he said:
The Daily News decided that tweet meant this: "President Trump pinned the blame for scores of missing text messages between two romancing FBI agents on the tech giant Samsung Tuesday, calling the glitch 'one of the biggest stories in a long time.'"
A couple of points, one obvious, one maybe not so much.
First, Trump was merely pointing out — sarcastically, mind you — that it's the Federal Bureau of Investigation that's blaming Samsung for the missing text messages between a top bureau agent and his mistress. The FBI said last Friday that because of a "glitch" in the bureau’s Samsung 5 mobile phones, some five months worth of text messages between agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page have mysteriously disappeared.
Strzok was a lead counterintelligence official who was involved in the clearing of Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified documents and also was part of the team investigating Trump for alleged collusion with Russia before the 2016 election. All kinds of revelations flowed this week about the pair's text massages, like this and this.
Newsweak — er, Newsweek — didn't know what to make of the president's words (as usual). "DID TRUMP BLAME SAMSUNG FOR MISSING FBI TEXT MESSAGES? PRESIDENT GETS NUMBER OF MESSAGES WRONG."
"Early Wednesday, President Donald Trump appeared to blame Korean electronics manufacturer Samsung for a technical glitch the FBI says caused sections of a series of controversial text messages between two officials to be lost," the lead said.
Well first, it wasn't "early Wednesday." Not to be too picky, but that's wrong. It was precisely 10:54 p.m. It's time-stamped on the tweet — which Newsweek ran in the piece! But the once-great-now-horrible magazine just didn't know what was going on, offering well down in the story: "Trump’s statement may have been sarcastic, Mail Online suggested."
But second is this point: Trump's just made a move that'll shed significant light on the whole Samsung-Did-It canard. Here's how: Trump points out that the FBI — not him, but the FBI — is "blaming Samsung." Now, Samsung has two choices: Come out and say, "Yup, our phones are pretty crummy, lots of glitches happen," or to push back on the narrative, declare that, "Guys, it's not our phones. Whatever problems you have is all on you."
If Samsung comes back with the latter, the story moves back to the FBI, despite the bureau's claim that the phones are at fault. With any luck, Samsung and the FBI will get in a mini-battle — "It's your fault! No, it's YOUR fault!!!"
So Trump's intent with the late-night (not early morning) tweet was twofold: Expose the "fake news" media, which we can assume he knew would (wrongly) claim that Trump was blaming Samsung, and push the electronics giant to rebut FBI claims that a "glitch" in the phones meant important data has gone missing.
There may be debate about whether Trump really is, as he claims, a "stable genius," but there's little doubt that sometimes, he really is playing some three-dimensional chess.