Anonymous Op-Ed in NYT Causes Chaos
On Wednesday evening, the New York Times published an account by an unnamed member of the Trump administration about resistance figures operating from inside the government. In the piece, the official claims that “many Trump appointees have vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office.” It is exceedingly rare for The Times to grant anonymity to an Op-Ed writer; this has happened just three times in the past three years.
Less than 90 minutes after the column’s publication, President Trump appeared on live television to denounce the essay, its author, and the news organization that published it. During a previously-scheduled photo-op, President Trump said, “We have somebody in what I call the failing New York Times talking about he’s part of the residence within the Trump administration—this is what we have to deal with.” Shortly after the column’s publication, President Trump also published a short but scathing Tweet: ”TREASON?”
The Op-Ed article was submitted to The Times’ opinion editor, James Dao, last week. In a statement, Dao said, “It was clear early on that the writer wanted anonymity, but we didn’t grant anything until we read it and we were confident that they were who they said they were.” Mr. Dao has declined to elaborate on the Op-Ed editors’ internal discussions.
Both reporters and online commenters were quick to dissect the article’s language for clues about its author’s identity. Dan Bloom, a Panoply producer, noted that the word “lodestar,” which appears toward the end of the piece, is used frequently by Vice President Mike Pence. While The Times refuses to reveal the author’s identity, many are comparing the action to the “Primary Colors” letter about Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign. That author was eventually revealed to be journalist Joe Klein after The Washington Post commissioned a handwriting analysis.
The Times’ Op-Ed page operates independently of the paper’s newsroom and Washington bureau.