For the life of me, I can’t figure out how the Times thought printing that was a good idea. But as we learned in 2015, what’s good for the media and what’s good for the country are two different things.
BREAKING: Trump responds after anonymous NYT Op-Ed.
"The New York Times is failing… The New York Times and CNN and all these phony media outlets will be out of business." – @MeetThePress
— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) September 5, 2018
The man’s entitled to a staff that believes in his vision. And if the professionals with whom he’s surrounded himself can’t provide that, he’ll surround himself with unprofessionals who can.
Sarah Sanders is demanding that author resign:
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) September 5, 2018
Twitter sleuths have noticed that “lodestar,” a word not in common use, appears in the op-ed and also happens to appear in multiple public comments by Mike Pence. That’s … interesting, and there are other phrases in the piece that point to a communications pro, but I’d bet both kidneys and a lung that the author isn’t Pence himself. (Yes, as absurd as that seems, there are in fact people on social media clinging to theory that it’s him.) The *entire story* of Mike Pence’s association with Trump is him being a dutiful soldier for the president with an eye to winning MAGA Nation’s support in 2024. It’s absurd to think he’d spoil that now in the most spectacular way, by sneak-attacking POTUS in his least favorite paper and trusting the Times to protect his identity in doing so. It’s preposterous beyond belief.
It could be someone on Pence’s speechwriting team, of course. Although even there, beware of deception. It may be that the author used “lodestar” deliberately, to throw people off his/her scent by pointing to someone on Team Pence instead.
Either way, this is a disaster for everyone involved. Including the Times itself:
So basically: Times reporters now must try to unearth the identity of an author that our colleagues in Opinion have sworn to protect with anonymity? https://t.co/wj2nKmDHz9
— jodikantor (@jodikantor) September 5, 2018
Should also note that all of the NYT reporters I’ve spoken to so far are livid that the opinion side has chosen to run an anonymous op-ed. Puts them in a really tough spot https://t.co/81cvISiIP2
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) September 5, 2018
What do you do if you’re a reporter in the Times news division and you get a hot tip from an insider about who the author is? The paper can’t publish that information without checking with the op-ed department for confirmation, as it’d be absurd to falsely accuse someone in print of having written it when other Times employees in the building know the truth. But the op-ed department can’t confirm the author’s identity for the news division or they’d be breaking their pledge of anonymity. The op-ed’s going to hurt Trump’s credibility abroad, almost certainly encourage him to hire lower quality personnel, and tie the Times itself in ethical knots.
Why’d the author do it? Jonah Goldberg has the best theory I’ve seen: “It seems plausible to me that the author is betting that when ‘it’s over,’ [i.e. Trump’s presidency] there will be many recriminations. He — or she — has gotten out in front of that. The author is now on record with an explanation that may — may — seem less self-serving than if offered when the Trump presidency is over.” Right. One of the most obnoxious and predictable developments of the aftermath of POTUS leaving office will be staffers across the executive branch and beyond insisting that they were never really part of the team, that they went along not because they were MAGA true believers but because they weren’t — rather, they felt they had a duty to try to restrain Trump from his worst impulses. (I wouldn’t put it past Kellyanne Conway to end up arguing that. That’s how far up the phenomenon could go.) The NYT author is simply getting out in front of it, laying down a marker early for some liberal appreciation later. Imagine the sort of ResistanceBucks his/her GoFundMe will eventually rake in.
Update: Jamelle Bouie summarizes the situation thusly:
it is useful to abstract away the particulars of our situation and think about what’s happening in generic terms.
“A secretive clique of advisors have wrested decision making authority from the chief executive and are using it in his stead.” https://t.co/bGrBPVOsVk
— b-boy bouiebaisse (@jbouie) September 5, 2018
Sounds sort of coup-ish.
Update: Yeah, this is going to be terrible all around, for everyone:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2018
It’s not treason but it ain’t good.