The NY Times is reporting the whistleblower who made the complaint about Trump’s call with Ukraine is a CIA agent who was on a detail to the White House:
The whistle-blower who revealed that President Trump sought foreign help for his re-election and that the White House sought to cover it up is a C.I.A. officer who was detailed to work at the White House at one point, according to three people familiar with his identity.
The man has since returned to the C.I.A., the people said. Little else is known about him. His complaint made public Thursday suggested he was an analyst by training and made clear he was steeped in details of American foreign policy toward Europe, demonstrating a sophisticated understanding of Ukrainian politics and at least some knowledge of the law.
The next section of the Times’ story is devoted to the back and forth over whether or not the Times should have published this information in the first place. The whistleblower’s attorney is not amused, telling the Times, “Any decision to report any perceived identifying information of the whistle-blower is deeply concerning and reckless, as it can place the individual in harm’s way.” That concern was echoed by others on Twitter:
Astonishing for the NYT to essentially out the whistle blower in a story that doesn’t advance what we already knew on the same day the President threatened retribution.
— Ben Rhodes (@brhodes) September 26, 2019
He’s referring to Trump’s statement about how to deal with “spies.” But NY Times executive editor Dean Baquet responded the information was essential to establishing the whistleblower’s credibility. Unfortunately for him, lots of left-leaning Times readers aren’t buying that explanation:
Translation: We at the New York Times really wanted the clicks and views. Therefore, we published information about the whistleblower’s identity because greed is more important than journalistic integrity.
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) September 26, 2019
This is a serious &/dangerous misjudgement. If the whistleblower had approached the @nytimes instead of the IG, by all means it should have verified his credibility privately – that's standard journalistic practice. But this story is reckless and the justification is laboured. https://t.co/mX9HqHffic
— Martyn McLaughlin (@MartynMcL) September 26, 2019
I think he has a point and it’s one I’ve seen several people make. If the whistleblower were an anonymous source for the Times, they’d be bending over backward to protect him. Since he’s not, they’re outing him.
There are hundreds of more responses like this from unhappy progressives. But it’s not just social media where people are reacting stongly to the decision to publish this information. The Times is being dragged on its own site by commenters. Here’s a sample:
- “I am stunned the paper would choose to do this. You just gave anyone who might choose to come forward to report a serious governmental wrongdoing ample reason to triple guess that choice.”
- “No, NYT – don’t go there. Do not identify or help identify the WB”
- “You, New York Times, have given enough detail for any amateur sleuth to find him. Would it hurt to wait a few weeks before releasing information that may imperil this American hero?”
- “It is irresponsible of you to so specifically identify the whistleblower. I am disappointed in your editorial decision.”
- “I understand the need to wanting to know more and complete information. But good grief, a person’s life could be on the line.”
- “Why are you trying to out this patriot, instead of investigating the crimes of the president? Unbelievable.”
- “Your actions are irresponsible.”
- “What in the world are you thinking?”
- “DO NOT OUT THIS HERO!”
- “Great article. All that’s missing is where his kids go to school.”
- “Reading this story makes me regret having cancelled my subscription. I’d like to be able to cancel it again.”
And on and on it goes. And I’m not cherry-picking those examples. I’d say the comments are 80 percent against the Times’ decision to publish in varying degrees, with most of the remainder of comments not taking a position either way. Only a handful of people appear to be standing up for the decision to publish.
Update: Hey, NY Times, the cancelation calls are coming from inside the house! Sarah Jeong was on Twitter apparently urging people to cancel subscriptions yesterday.
A lot of NYT’s recent problems have been coming from the opinion side. It was opinion that screwed up handling of the Kavanaugh book excerpt. And now here’s an opinion editor openly telling the public that canceled subscriptions will help with office politics over news reporting. https://t.co/rZkLSaiiDx
— Josh Barro (@jbarro) September 27, 2019
Jeong added this:
I’ve eschewed children and a mortgage exactly so I can have the freedom to follow my conscience. I will not dissuade anyone else from following their conscience as well.
— sarah jeong (@sarahjeong) September 27, 2019
It’s not completely clear this was about the whistleblower story yesterday but that seems to have been the most immediate issue around the time this was published. I wonder if Jeong’s going to get a call from Dean Baquet soon.