The anonymous opinion article that ran in the New York Times last week claiming to be authored by a senior official in the Trump administration has garnered mixed responses from inside and outside the White House.
The article made a few bold claims, such as “many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations” and “the bigger concern is not what Mr. Trump has done to the presidency but rather what we as a nation have allowed him to do to us. We have sunk low with him and allowed our discourse to be stripped of civility.” I think that the article was both a genius strategy, as well as a foolish one.
Firstly, it was anonymous. Everyone has been interviewed at this point, and no one claims responsibility for it. There were a variety of responses, some colorful such as Sarah Sanders’ “If you want to know who this gutless loser is, call the opinion desk of the failing NYT at 212-556-1234 and ask them,” to Ben Carson’s to-the-point “nope.”
On one level, anonymity is a great tactic if the author wanted those within the Trump administration to become paranoid of each other, and search for whoever is trying to undermine the president. On another, the fact that it is anonymous calls its credibility into question, at a time where public faith in news sources is at a very low point.
Trump’s initial response to the article was to call for an investigation, but now it seems that he does not care, seemingly chalking it up to fake news. There appear to be no plans to use lie detectors, and no further conversations about trying to find the author at this time.
The day that the article hit, Trump began undermining it for its veracity and authenticity, tweeting “Are the investigative ‘journalists’ of the New York Times going to investigate themselves – who is the anonymous letter writer?” As much as I may dislike saying this, he calls up a valid point- how are we to know if this was actually authored by one of his senior officials?
Well, based on the writing, and the long standing public faith in the New York Times journalistic integrity, I think that it is entirely possible that this was a political play from within his administration.
Nothing that was written in the article was particularly new information. In fact, it more so serves as a solidarity of opinions that have been going around since he was elected. It’s no secret that Trump doesn’t play well with others, has an ambiguous moral compass and admires dictators and autocrats such as Kim Jong-un and Vladimir Putin. This tells me that this piece wasn’t for us; it was for Trump.
There are some sinister undertones hidden under the defiant tone of the article. It was very clear that their stance is not the “popular ‘resistance’ of the left,” adding that “We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous.”
Though ambiguous, I see the person who wrote this having more of an issue with the fact that they cannot control Trump- not that they dislike his policy positions. For this reason, I am not celebrating the article. We know who is in power now, but we don’t know who wants to be.