Kudos to Chris Cuomo for asking this question of paid CNN contributor Miles Taylor. Too bad CNN executives didn’t actually have an answer to it yesterday. Taylor, now outed as the much-vaunted “senior administration official” who penned the New York Times’ 2018 “Anonymous” op-ed claiming the resistance in the Trump White House was real, had actually lied on CNN air to Anderson Cooper about being the author of the essay.
If Taylor’s willing to lie on air, Cuomo challenges him, why should anyone watching believe anything he says now? Exactly:
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) October 29, 2020
CUOMO: All right. First, what matters most, certainly to me, you lied to us, Miles. You were asked in August, if you were “Anonymous,” here on CNN, with Anderson Cooper and you said “No.” Now, why should CNN keep you on the payroll after lying like that?
TAYLOR: Chris, it’s a great question, and I’ll just give you the blunt truth. When I published “A Warning,” I said in the book that if asked, I would strenuously deny I was the Author. And here’s the reason. Because the things I said in that book were ideas that I wanted Donald Trump to challenge on their merits. We have seen over the course of four years that Donald Trump’s preference is to find personal attracts and distractions to pull people away from criticisms of his record. I wrote that work anonymously to deprive him of that opportunity and to force him to answer the questions on their merits.
And I’ll tell you what happened, Chris. The end result is the President couldn’t. He failed to deny what was in that book. And, in fact, to this day, the White House has failed to challenge the narratives that were in that book or the narratives that I have explained in my own name, over the past four months, speaking out against the President. So, when asked by Anderson, whether I was “Anonymous,” during that time period, I said what I was going to do. I temporarily denied it. But I’ve always said I would ultimately come out under my own name.
But that said, I owe Anderson Cooper a beer, I owe him a mea culpa, and the same thing for other reporters who, at that time period, asked me “Are you Anonymous,” and I said “No,” because I wanted that work to stand on its own two legs and deprive the President of an opportunity to do one more personal attack to distract from his record. But look, I’m here tonight to say that was me, and I hope people challenge me on those accounts, and I hope the White House looks back at those accounts, and looks at them, and tries to actually say, whether they’re true or not, because there is an army of people who’ve now come out, Chris–
TAYLOR: –who will validate them.
CUOMO: We will go through what the White House said in response. We will go through your time there, and what mattered, in terms of what you were trying to hold off for America’s collective national security. But you know what the problem is with having lied is that now you are a liar, and people will be slow to believe you, when you lied about something as important as whether or not you wanted to own this.
TAYLOR: Chris, that’s the truth. And this was a very torturous decision. It was not immediate for me to want to publish this work anonymously at the get-go. It really wasn’t. But at the time, and I’ll be frank with you, behind the scenes, I was trying to get people, who I’m not going to dime out, but other household names in the Administration, to come out and tell the truth that, Chris, we all knew, inside this Administration. This isn’t about just Miles Taylor. It’s about a majority of the President’s cabinet at that time that shared these views. I couldn’t. And the next best opportunity was to convey it in a way that the President would avoid those personal attacks. But you’re right, Chris. And I owe an apology for having to maintain that necessary misdirection for that period of time in order for that argument to work. But look, I’m here now to talk about it. And I’ve been out there talking about this for four months.
Put simply, this is nonsense on stilts. Taylor’s still claiming to speak for Cabinet members when he wrote this as a deputy chief of staff at DHS. That might make Taylor a senior official in that agency, but not a senior official in the Trump administration. It seems highly unlikely that a deputy CoS would know his own boss’ entire state of mind, let alone that of other Cabinet officials or White House senior staff. It’s far more likely that Taylor’s main contact activities were downward rather than upward, and the “Anonymous” op-ed reflected nothing more than careerist discontent with new populist policies, filtered upward through a glorified gofer.
Even apart from that, Taylor’s excuses for lying amount to nothing more than Orange Man Bad. Taylor says he wanted to remain anonymous to force Trump to respond to his criticisms rather than attack his standing to make them. Well, that much is true, because Taylor didn’t have the kind of standing that he and the New York Times insinuated he did. Taylor lied to keep up a pretense of a vast conspiracy within the Trump administration to thwart him, and blames Trump for his lying — including the lie of his “senior” status in the Trump administration. Let’s not forget that this lie also conveniently allowed Taylor to get a book deal pushing the same nonsense, although Taylor claims he donated the proceeds to charity. Did he? Well, Taylor does have a track record of lying to boost the status of “Anonymous,” so who knows?
And now that CNN knows he lied about that … they’re still paying him as a credible analyst. That speaks volumes about CNN’s credibility, Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple wrote last night, as well as the NYT’s:
As The Post’s Carlos Lozada pointed out in his review of Taylor’s book-length anti-Trump essay — “A Warning” — the author made the extraordinary pledge that he’d “strenuously deny” authorship if challenged on the matter. He wasn’t kidding: In an August interview on CNN, where Taylor is a contributor, he said this to Anderson Cooper about authoring “A Warning”: “I wear a mask for two things, Anderson: Halloween and pandemics. So, no,” said Taylor.
Meaning, Taylor made good on his commitment to lie. We asked CNN what it had to say about a contributor doing such a thing on air. A spokeswoman responded that he will remain a contributor — on the network that pillories Trump for lying, that sics a fact-checker on virtually every statement coming out of the White House, that has made a franchise out of “Facts First.” …
As to his relationship with Cooper, Taylor says, “If he’s willing, I owe Anderson a beer and a mea culpa.”
Beers and mea culpas are appropriate salves for collegial infelicities, like, perhaps, blindsiding a co-worker at softball practice, or inadvertently chugging a colleague’s iced latte sitting in the office refrigerator. They don’t mitigate a lie on national television. Yet that’s the mind-set with which the New York Times and CNN are now associated.
Good point, although CNN has trodden that path of late. It hired James Clapper as its nat-sec analyst in 2017 to present day despite lying to Congress about domestic surveillance. CNN also hired Andrew McCabe as a contributor in August 2019 after the former #2 at the FBI got fired for lying to investigators. Taylor might feel right at home at “facts first” CNN.