"Come at the king, you best not miss." — Omar Little, The Wire
In an anonymous opinion piece in The New York Times, titled "I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration," a senior official writes that many members of the administration are working from within to frustrate parts of the president's agenda and his worst inclinations. Making the piece anonymous was unwise, and it will thus not be effective at bringing about change in President Trump or his supporters.
There are two major flaws here:
- The New York Times shouldn't offer an anonymous voice this level of a platform. As readers, we have no way to know what this person's background and agenda may be. Running this piece anonymously makes The Times seem partisan and undermines its own credibility. I'm stunned that they ran it this way.
- If the senior official really wanted to bring about change, they should have resigned and gone public. Yes, continuing to protect us from an unhinged president is important. But, so is sharing the full truth about Trump with Americans in a convincing way. They could have put their name on an open letter or opinion piece about why they were leaving. They could have given on-the-record interviews. That would have been far more credible and persuasive. Instead, we have an anonymous piece that people will believe or dismiss based on their existing allegiances.
If the senior official thought an anonymous piece would change President Trump or change the minds of the 85% of Republicans who approve of him, they were wrong. They took a shot at the king, and they missed. I'm guessing Trump will be going on a witch hunt among his own staff now.
All that said, I think some aspects of the op-ed have been unfairly criticized:
- Some have claimed the op-ed doesn't tell us anything we didn't already know. True, we have seen the president's words differ from his administration's words and actions numerous times, particularly with regard to Russia. And, recent leaks from Bob Woodward's upcoming book, already showed Trump staffers often trying to save the president from himself. But, for a senior official to publicly claim that a cabal in the administration is trying to protect the country from the president is major news. It matters. It just shouldn't have been done anonymously.
- Some say this op-ed piece coming in tandem with Woodward's book will dangerously feed President Trump's paranoia. They say he will now question whether every aide and cabinet member is secretly against him. They say we are about to see more erratic and unhinged behavior, not less. I actually agree that the book and op-ed may make the president's behavior worse. But, I would rather the public know how bad things are than not know. Again, it just shouldn't have been done anonymously.
Main blog post image by Shirly Niv Marton.