By Joe Caltagirone
While The New York Times had every constitutional right to publish their latest and most controversial op-ed, it was a mistake do to so. Not only could it have featured an untrustworthy source, it also gave a voice to someone who may not have been qualified to have an opinion on the situation.
The article published by The New York Times was an anonymous op-ed, which featured a supposed ‘resistance’ member in the Trump administration with the title of senior official. As well as being a senior official, they also referred to themselves as a presidential appointee. To be clear, the journalist and the editor know who the source is, but have chosen to keep the source anonymous, which presents a multitude of problems.
One such problem is, the source claims that they are a member of the resistance of the administration. In fact it’s mentioned in the title of the article. This is a great example of clickbait, an interesting and controversial title that grabs the attention of an audience. The other main feature of clickbait is that it is seldom based on concrete fact. Although the source stated that they are a member of the resistance in the White House, they also didn’t say anything they were doing against the president, other than calling him amoral. A disagreement isn’t a resistance, it’s just an integral part of politics. Just because they disagree with some aspects of President Trump does not mean they are part of a grand conspiracy within the White House. All this shows is that the source doesn’t have or want to give an evidence.
Although the title of “Presidential Appointee” seems very official, across the nation there are over 4,000 presidential appointees, 1,212 of them are senior officials. This ‘credible source’ could be any one of those 1,212 people, many of whom do not work in the White House. Since The New York Times has made it clear they are not releasing the author’s identity anytime soon, the public will not know if this source works at the Marine Mammal Commision or the Executive Branch at the White House.
Some people think that this article was needed at the time it released and that the author was brave in coming out against the president. And while I would not go as far as President Trump saying via Twitter that the situation might have been, “TREASON[?]” I disagree completely and do not think this situation is as brave as some members of the media say it is. Attaching a name to the article wouldn’t have put the source in danger, as they already disagree with whom they’re working with, and while it might have burnt bridges with Republicans, the author has been glorified as a hero among Democrats, so I do not think their political career would be completely ruined if a name was released. What removing the anonymous aspect would do is 1. Give fewer reasons to disagree with the article and 2. Attach an amount of courage to the article. Some might be reminded of John Dean, the White House counsel that turned on Nixon during the Watergate scandal. Dean had the decency to have his opinions attached to his name and those opinions eventually helped drive Nixon out of office.
The author states that they, “want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous.” This is an issue. If this staff member thinks that the administration is doing well on policy and has made the country a better place, then what is the need for a resistance?
The source then clearly contradicts themselves throughout the article. For example, they commend the president’s policies and what he has done for the country and its people, then turn completely around and say, “But these successes have come despite — not because of — the president’s leadership style, which is impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective.” If the president shouldn’t take credit for his own policymaking, who should? A stance has to be made, and if the author wants to be taken seriously, they should have a definite opinion on the situation they are addressing.
The New York Times made a mistake in publishing the op-ed featuring an anonymous ‘resistance’ member in the White House. Perhaps they will put a little more thought into their sources in the future, or at least publish them with a name.