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Politics

Senior Trump Official Publishes Anonymous Op-ed

Trump Official AnonymousThe New York Times published an anonymous op-ed at the request of a senior official within the Trump Administration, which contained claims that are devastating to Trump’s presidency, on Wednesday, Sept. 5.

In the op-ed entitled “I Am Part of the Resistance inside the Trump Administration,” the author, identified as a “senior official in the Trump administration,” asserts that “the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic.”

The unnamed official attributes President Trump’s behavior to his “amorality.”

In the prelude to the article, the New York Times added a statement saying “[they] believe that publishing this essay anonymously is the only way to deliver an important perspective to [their] readers.”

Historically speaking, anonymous sources are common in matters of national, political news; yet, it is rare occurrence when editorial pieces are published anonymously.

Julian Garcia, a professor of journalism, affirms the importance of anonymity in certain circumstances saying, “For those who believe in an open and free press, anonymous sources are important.” In establishing the weight anonymity carries in journalism, Garcia commented on the material published.

“The revelations were not the least bit shocking to me because I feel like many of us knew this already, regarding the president’s behavior. But to have someone so close to him, working in his administration, confirm this, was huge,” he said.

The impact of the editorial is important because, in the wake of Fear, a controversial book by Bob Woodward, a former journalist of Watergate who released initial excerpts this past week, an anonymous source from the White House addresses the public directly, virtually supporting Woodward’s 448- page digest about the Trump administration.

In speaking with Eric Schwartz, a sophomore political science student, about how he felt concerning the essay’s release in conjunction with recent passages from Fear, he alleged that “with all the claims of incompetence spiraling around the president, this is a perfectly opportune time to add onto that and push further ‘evidence’ into the claims that Trump should not be holding the office of the presidency.”

The “further evidence” that Schwartz claims the Times article provides, utilizing a primary source, singlehandedly sustains hundreds of hours of reporting with Trump officials, past and president, that Woodward’s book cites.

Kristen Walker, a NBC News White House correspondent, also attributes the article’s significance to specific events that Woodward focused on in his novel: “that there are some administrations officials here who are, for example, swiping pages off the president’s desk,” she said.

“[Woodward] cites Gary Cohn, former top aide Rob Porter as having engaged in that type of activity to prevent the president from signing onto some policies that they deemed dangerous.”

Walker believes that the unnamed author in the New York Times sang a similar tune to Woodward, by indicating that presidential aides tend to protect presidents from their worse inclinations.

Although, the essay seems to perfect accompany Fear, given both texts explore how advisors keep the president on track, Kenneth Mitchell, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Political Science and Sociology and an associate professor of political science, does not believe this to be true of the current Administration.

Rather, he thinks that “the culture in the White House is that everyone’s allowed to say whatever they want, because the president, himself, is screaming every day.”

“The White House doesn’t govern well, by any reasonable assessment… it’s disorganized and it’s hard to be disorganized at the national level because things go wrong and there’s consequences,” said Mitchell.

The coincidence of publishing damning revelations about the Trump administration the same week as Woodward’s book, might suggest bias within the Times, especially if White House officials are as disorganized as Mitchell speculates.

If so, the editorial’s publication would call into question the credibility of the Times, since the op-ed is of anti-Trump sentiment and vague in detail.

“The New York Time has an unattributed editorial that is highly critical of the Trump Administration, rightly or wrongly,” said John Morano, a professor of journalism.

“Among the readers of the Times, “I think it’s probably safe to say that the Trump administration is not looked at favorably and the New York Times, on some level, serves its readers, just as Fox serves its viewers, so it makes one wonder,” he said. 

Similarly, Schwartz does not consider publication as a risk to the Times’ credibility due to the political orientation of the paper’s readership, declaring the New York Times “a left-leaning paper whose staff is consistently outspoken against Trump.”  The perspective of readers would effectively align with the op-ed, making it “anything but a risk.”

Contrarily, Axel Martinez, a sophomore political science student, believes that “…if the New York Times wasn’t sure that this information was legitimate, they would not have run the risk.”

He defines the assumed risk for the Times as loss of credibility, stating that “they have already been called out [by President Trump] as ‘the failing New York Times.’”

Garcia agrees with Martinez, expressing that “getting the truth out there is what matters most.” He considers the New York Times to be credible, in this instance.

IMAGE TAKEN from The New York Times.

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