As usual, our national media folks are running around, chasing their tails again. The herd mentality permeating today’s print and broadcast practitioners is at a fever pitch as they try to find out who wrote that anonymous New York Times op-ed.
In their frenzy, nearly all are missing the real issue. It’s not WHO wrote it but WHAT was said.
For the record, I believe the writer should have identified him/herself which would have strengthened the credibility of the piece. I also think The Times should have demanded the op-ed be by-lined. As others are. Or refused publication. As others are.
Also, for the record, I believe the writer was National Intelligence Chief Dan Coates. Gut hunch. But, that’s another story for another time.
As a stand-alone piece, the op-ed seems closer to gossip than new facts. Yes, it has some juicy tidbits like keeping Trump in the dark about certain things, staff agreeing to follow an order, then ignoring it, stealing documents from Trump’s desk. All grist for the “I-told-you-so” crowd. But, without authorship ID, pretty much gossip.
The plain fact is, we already knew most of this from publication of three books on the market in recent months. My pick of them is Bob Woodward’s “FEAR” which is due out tomorrow but which has been in the headlines for the last two weeks, thanks to a broken publication release date.
Woodward, whose investigative journalism career goes back to Watergate with Carl Bernstein, is one of the best in the business. He’s a taskmaster for accuracy, probity, intimate detail and documentation. He routinely records almost all interviews and conversations, gathering supporting documents when available. I’ve never heard of a reporter more difficult to challenge than Woodward.
His book is filled with named sources, saying their pieces into a digital recorder. Several have denied saying what they said. But, it’s on his record. Woodward is not backing down. And, he won’t. The irony here is some voices quoted and documented by Woodward spoke truth then and are lying in denials now. Or, their denials are incomplete. If the op-ed is accurate, and it really was written by someone high up in the administration, someone is lying there, too, since all cabinet and senior staff have submitted their denials.
The writer of the op-ed will eventually be identified. Just as Watergate’s “Deepthroat” finally surfaced - after 35-years - the current anonymous source will be known. In a shorter time, likely, but it’ll happen. Which makes media focus more on WHO than WHAT even more ridiculous.
Three consecutive books on the “Titanic” atmosphere in our White House were written separately but resulted in a lot of overlap and repetition of the chaos. As citizens - and as voters - we know all we need to know about this dysfunctional administration. And, daily, we are slathered in new detail about our disastrous and dangerous President. With or without the op-ed, we know enough.
The media drumbeat about the Times op-ed is distracting and useless. Without attribution, there are really only two ways to look at it. One, nearly all of it simply confirms what we already know, thereby reducing its relevance. And, two, with no authorship, it’s basically gossip.
And here’s a final theory - improbable, but fun to think about. Suppose the op-ed was a “plant” by the administration to take attention off the Kavanaugh hearings. What’s happening in that Senate hearing room is the wreckage of decorum, precedent and undermining of what that hearing should really be about. But, Kavanaugh, on the U.S. Supreme Court, is thought to be a Trump-saver when push-comes-to-shove. Which is likely.
I’m just sayin’.