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White House Leaks

Where there’s teams there’s always players, and the leaks at the White House during the Trump Administration is no exception. These leaks have become a classic example of the dominant strategy in the prisoner’s dilemma. During the Trump Administration there has been several leaks from several senior officials. One recent leak was the dismissal of senator John McCain’s dying words. Even conversation in the Oval Office, cabinet meetings, and Situation Room have leaked. This has all began since Trump came into office and interestingly the concept of the prisoner’s dilemma in game theory can explain the motivation behind these leaks.

As explained in the link, the culture in the White House under the Trump Administration has become factionalized, and a scheme-or-be-schemed mentality. The members of the White House only concern is to promote their own teams and take down rivals. This creates teams whose dominant strategy like in the prisoner’s dilemma is to confess, in this case leak information. There is however a crucial difference which encourages participants to leak more often. Even though they are able to communicate with their opponents unlike the prisoner’s dilemma, they cannot trust them which could cause more participants to be on edge. An interesting concept the article does not explore is the payoff. What could be the payoff of leaking sensitive government information? Power? Money? Recognition? And at what cost? Probably the same as the prisoner’s dilemma…prison.


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September 2018