On Wednesday, President Trump demanded the New York Times identify the source of a scathing anonymous op-ed allegedly written by a senior administration official, citing national security concerns.
“Does the so-called ‘Senior Administration Official’ really exist, or is it just the Failing New York Times with another phony source? If the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once,” he tweeted.
The Times seemed to have at least identified the gender of the anonymous writer in a tweet promoting the article:
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“In an anonymous Op-Ed, a senior Trump administration official says he and others are working to frustrate the president’s ‘misguided impulses,'” the Times said.
— The New York Times (@nytimes) September 5, 2018
But the Times backtracked somewhat, saying the gender identified in the tweet may not be accurate.
“The tweet was drafted by someone who is not aware of the author’s identity, including the gender, so the use of ‘he’ was an error,” Danielle Rhoades Ha told CNN.
The Times later gave readers an opportunity to ask questions about the essay or their vetting process:
The Times’s Opinion desk has taken the rare step of publishing an anonymous Op-Ed essay. We did so at the request of the author, a senior official in the Trump administration whose identity is known to us and whose job would be jeopardized by its disclosure.
We believe publishing this essay anonymously is the only way to deliver an important perspective to our readers. We invite you to submit a question about the essay or our vetting process. Our Op-Ed editor, James Dao, will answer a selection of them.
Many of those responding to the Times were supportive of the article, but others weren’t too impressed. One person, for example, called it a coup:
Do you know what it's called when unelected govt workers conspire to secretly undermine the working of the govt and evade the checks designed to guide the succession of power?
They are staging a coup in the White House and you are patting them on the back for it
— Claire (@spacerockgeek) September 6, 2018
That’s what it looks like to us as well.
As we reported earlier, Dinesh D’Souza suggested that the author is not an administration official, but is, in reality, a professional writer working for the paper:
Just read the anonymous @nytimes article and it’s blindingly obvious it’s an in-house product written not by any Trump official but by a professional writer at the newspaper itself. This is the very definition of #FakeNews
— Dinesh D'Souza (@DineshDSouza) September 5, 2018
Trump hammered the Times, calling the editorial “gutless” and wondering if treason was involved.
So who might have written the piece? CNN’s Chris Cillizza said it could have been any one of 13 people, including — I kid you not — Melania Trump.
“To be clear, I don’t think the first lady did this. But her willingness to send messages when she is unhappy with her husband or his administration is unmistakable. (“I really don’t care. Do U?”) And, if you believe this administration and Trump are governed by reality shows rules, then Melania writing the op-ed is the most reality TV thing EVER,” he wrote.
He also suggested that Vice President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Kellyanne Conway or Nikki Haley might have penned the piece.
Of course, Cillizza doesn’t really have any real evidence to back up his claims. And, Twitchy said, he didn’t even consider the possibility that it might have been someone nobody ever heard of.
Washington Post reporter David Nakamura suggested it could have been any one of over 1,000 individuals:
Most DC journalists, incl. me, have quoted a "senior administration official" in stories. But I feel as though an op-ed like this should have an editor's note explaining what an SAO is. There are 1,212 Senate-confirmed positions, incl. 640 'key' jobs https://t.co/9WNva10ZOr https://t.co/CySe7znom1
— David Nakamura (@DavidNakamura) September 5, 2018
Twitchy concluded: “So maybe cut the meaningless speculation clickbait, ‘eh?'”
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