Monday, September 10, 2018


Here's how last week's unsigned New York Times op-ed is being covered now.

Scott Simon on NPR Saturday:
I don't like anonymous bylines. You can't ask questions of an anonymous speaker or writer, try to poke holes in their story, or get them to prove what they say. You can't guess what they hope to gain by writing or saying what they do, whether it's to advance an idea, promote a book or just promote themselves....

Anonymous charges have an ugly history in America, from real witch hunts in the American colonies to the McCarthy era....

What does a self-described "senior official in the Trump administration" have to lose by speaking publicly? Their job?

Within hours of being fired, perhaps by tweet, the suddenly former senior official would be "punished" with a taxing round of media interviews, well-paid speeches and a book contract.
Shervin Malekzadeh at the HuffPost yesterday:
The notion that the essay published on Wednesday counts as an act of bravery, that this self-designated member of the resistance can barely conceal his or her desire to be acknowledged as a servant of the commonweal, while plainly ignoring the real abuses of the administration, is too much to bear. The author fails to mention the nearly 500 migrant children still separated from their parents, the constant race-baiting by the president, or his ceaseless demonization of a free press, but happily celebrates “effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more.” Our country for 30 pieces of silver.
Mediaite yesterday:
On Sunday, former Trump campaign director Michael Caputo claimed he knows who the author of the mysterious New York Times op-ed is and insisted the person behind the prose is a woman.

CNN host Fredricka Whitfield started the conversation by quizzing Caputo about his claim that he has figured it out.

“So you feel like you’ve figured out who the person is, do you believe the White House has figured it out?” Whitfield asked.

Caputo replied he feels like the White House is getting close.

“Well, how come you know and they don’t?” Whitfield pressed further.

“They’re getting there,” Caputo insisted.
That's how we're discussing the op-ed: We're debating the appropriateness of anonymity, we're critiquing the author's policy priorities -- and, mostly, we're spending a lot of time trying to guess the author's identity.

We're devoting a lot more time to discussing the nature of the op-ed and its author than we are to discussing what the op-ed says about the president and his administration. Why was it written? Wasn't it written to tell us that our government is badly damaged? To warn us that the president, left to his own devices, would do very frightening things?

We're not having that conversation. We were having that conversation when the first excerpts from Bob Woodward's book appeared, and for a while the contents of the op-ed played into that discussion. But now we just want to know: Who's the sneak? Will the sneak get caught? Why is the sneak a sneak? Why isn't the sneak more of a resister?

It was a clever stunt made to draw attention to serious problems that threaten our country, but we seem to be more interested in the stunt than the threat.

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