In a move being called “highly unusual” for the leading newspaper, The New York Times published an anonymous op-ed Wednesday from a senior official within Trump’s administration claiming inside forces are working to combat Trump’s agenda.
The motivations behind the piece are questionable to say the least. The author champions that Americans recognize the efforts the administration has taken to combat Trump’s “misguided impulses” and “worst inclinations,” writing that officials have been secretly resisting his policies all along. But why would they expose themselves to Trump and the rest of the administration without a real call to action for the American people?
The op-ed is a long re-hash of information people already know about Trump — we’ve all heard the narrative about Trump acting like an adult toddler — with no identifiable purpose other than informing readers that not all Trump officials are bad. It is nothing more than a distraction and a waste of time. The more people who focus on this article, the more time newsrooms spend on it and the more Trump’s administration will benefit from a distraction from how poorly Brett Kavanaugh’s hearings are going.
We know that the author of the column is, at the end of the day, still a prominent member of Trump’s administration. They are still a co-conspirator. If they truly have no respect for Trump, they would not continue to work as one of his top officials. The author wants to be the unsung hero of our democracy, but it seems as though they are scrambling to do damage control — covering themselves and other senior officials from the fallout at the end of Trump’s term without being bold enough to speak publically.
Trump attacked the Times, unsurprisingly, for publishing the piece, calling the publication “dishonest” and questioning whether the Times wrote the piece itself. Melania Trump released a statement saying the press should be fair and unbiased, implying that the use of unnamed news sources contradicts this.
It’s rare for a publication to publish an unnamed op-ed piece for this very reason. The publication bears a heavy weight of protecting the privacy of the individual, no matter the cost. When the Times decided to publish an article from an unnamed source, they likely knew it could damage their credibility. However, they decided the benefits of issuing the piece — releasing information that could potentially change the course of Trump’s presidency — was worth the risk.
Journalists are never trying to hide something on their end when they refuse to name the identity of a source. They’re protecting the wellbeing of someone who wants to speak to an audience but could face serious repercussion for doing so. It’s a paper’s responsibility to risk being accused of lying, manipulating the political climate and feeding rumors to protect the confidentiality of their sources.
The person who wrote this column will have their one week of fame, but after that week is up, the column will mean nothing for the American people. Either the author has committed crimes during the presidency and is hoping to disconnect from the the administration, or they didn’t. People will speculate about who they are, and people will speculate about why the Times published the article.
Now, the news section of the Times, as well as numerous other news sections across the country, have the obligation to figure out who wrote the column, while the opinion section has the obligation to protect their identity. But at the end of the day, this story has no significant meaning for anybody. It’s the empty word of a remorseful official who either regrets or fears their involvement in Trump’s campaign and is trying to cover their tracks.