Times' decision to publish anonymous column carries risks

Donald Trump and Bashar al-Assad

Donald Trump and Bashar al-Assad

Following the publication of a scathing op-ed from an anonymous senior Trump administration official, The New York Times refused to disclose any identifiable information about its source.

They lined up to deny writing an incendiary New York Times opinion piece that was purportedly submitted by a member of an administration "resistance" movement straining to thwart Trump's most unsafe impulses. "[Donald Trump] has a clear governing vision for the country and his record of results is remarkable".

Nancy Ancrum, the editorial board editor at the Miami Herald, said she only remembers one instance in which her paper ran an anonymous piece: about 15 years ago, the Herald published a letter from an unnamed woman who had been sexually assaulted as a child. The author said the president's administration suffered a "nervous breakdown" during its first 19 months.

Let's just hope this saga doesn't end like this.

One of the leading theories online is that Vice-President Mike Pence penned the piece, based on the use of the word "lodestar", which Kimmel found suspicious.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, for her part, seemed more flippant during an interview with Laura Ingraham on Fox News on Wednesday night. Lindsey Graham over criticism by sharing his cell phone number.

A livid Trump questioned whether the author is a legitimate administration official, but also demanded that the Times out him or her and suggested that the person should be investigated. I don't know any of those people in the room.' ...

Mr Trump labelled the anonymous writer "gutless" and the newspaper as "phony".

The official described a "two-track" presidency in which Trump says one thing and his staff consciously does another, for example with regard to what he called Trump's "preference for autocrats and dictators".

Both the book and the op-ed have painted a portrait of an administration that is increasingly at odds with the president's impulses.

He called it "a disgrace" and the writer "gutless" during an event with sheriffs at the White House on Wednesday afternoon.

"We have a very good agreement and understanding that we're going to get our government funded", the Wisconsin Republican said during his weekly news conference Thursday.

The denials and condemnations came in from far and wide: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis denied authorship on a visit to India, Interior Secretary Ryan Zeinke from American Samoa.

"The media's obsession with the identity of the anonymous coward is recklessly tarnishing the reputation of thousands of great Americans who proudly serve our country and work for President Trump". The author calls Trump "anti-trade and anti-democratic". The column attracted so much attention - as much for its existence as for what it actually said - that it raised the expectation that the author is someone powerful, she said.

According to Buzzfeed, Pompeo said the anonymous op-ed was "sad" and said The New York Times should not "have chosen to take a disgruntled, deceptive bad actor's word for anything and put it in their newspaper".

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said through a spokesman that he was not the author, as did Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Huntsman, also through representatives.

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