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The New York Times Anonymous Op-Ed – a New Low in Journalism

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The New York Times Anonymous Op-Ed – a New Low in Journalism

The New York Times Anonymous Op-Ed – a New Low in Journalism
September 07
17:22 2018

The #NeverTrump folks in the media have spent the better part of the past two years trying to shame supporters of President Trump to abandon him. They have placed special emphasis on those who currently work for the administration. They claim that their continued employment in the Trump administration will forever damage their personal and professional reputations.

On the other hand, I wonder how long those folks at the elitist eastern media will continue to prop up the reputation of the New York Times. As part of the Trump (Republican, conservative) resistance movement, the Old Gray Lady of journalism has been losing credibility for some time. One might say she has developed reportorial Alzheimer’s.

More recently, the Times hired a deeply troubled man-hating feminist for the editorial page. It was not by error or lack of vetting. The newspaper not only hired Sarah Jeong with full knowledge of her extremely hateful and sexist tweets – but defended her as an important contributor to the increasingly narrow and fact-challenged opinions offered up on the publication’s editorial page.

As if that was not enough of a departure from journalistic norms and ethics, the Times recently sunk to an even lower low. With great fanfare and the predictable cheers of the anti-Trump press, the New York Times published an op-ed article lambasting Trump with a compendium of the accusations in which the elitist media has been wallowing in for months.

There are a number of things that are remarkable about the guest editorial. It was little more than a superficial screed accusing the president of being unhinged, chaotic, unstable, amoral, dishonest and a serious threat to the welfare of the Republic – nay, the entire world. But, these superficial insults have been the currency of the resistance media since Election Day, 2016. What was remarkable was the lack of any specifics. It was a political indictment with no supporting evidence.

The Times intended to pump credibility into the article by the authorship. It was a “senior official” in the Trump administration. Now that would be newsworthy. But this tattling insider remained anonymous. Ponder that for a moment. The New York Times did something I have never seen done even by those sensationalistic, fact-challenged rags prominently displayed at the checkout counters. The Times published an anonymous opinion piece.

Allow me to indulge in a bit of personal history. I have been associated with journalism since working on my high school newspaper. Among the many things I learned along the way is that it is wrong, unethical, dishonest and otherwise bad policy to rely on anonymous sources. They were to be incorporated into a news story only if the anonymity was essential AND there was a second source to corroborate the information.

Over the years, I have watched those ethical standards slip away to the detriment of the profession. One should recall Jayson Blair. He was a young reporter who was fired from the very same New York Times for plagiarizing and inventing “unnamed sources.” Howell Raines, who was then Executive Editor of the Times, was forced to resign for continuing to publish Blair’s bogus stories after having been warned that they were short on accuracy. Then there was Janet Cooke, who wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning story for the Washington Post that was later proven to have been fabricated. And the list goes on.

The increasingly permissive use of single, unnamed sources is journalism’s open door to fraudulent reporting. The credibility of the unnamed source cannot be evaluated by the public.

The Times claimed that the op-ed author was a senior official in the Trump administration, but what does that mean? The implication – eagerly seized upon by the anti-Trump press – was that it was someone close to the Oval Office – someone in the inner circle. But, even the description of a senior level person is questionable because that description is often applied to low-level sources who, themselves, have no firsthand knowledge – just gossip. Under that title, the author of the op-ed could be someone close to the president, but could also be someone who does not even have credentials to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the White House – the West Wing.

It is suspicious, if not telling, that the Times did not say the person worked in the White House but only in the administration. He or she could even be a high-level official in one of the departments or agencies. How an anonymous source is described is usually not the decision of the newspaper. Traditionally, the reporter will ask the subject how he or she would like to be described – and they are likely to hype their credibility with the most impressive title.

Perhaps the most newsworthy information contained in the op-ed was the existence of members of the resistance movement within the upper ranks of the administration. While the author promotes himself as a patriot saving the nation from a deranged president, many of the actions described fit with the theory of a deep state establishment.

The author claims that a cabal of officials usurped the constitutional authority of the President of the United States. It was reminiscent of General Alexander Haig, who inappropriately assured the nation that he was “in control here” after President Reagan had been shot – ignoring the fact that Reagan had not relinquished any authority and when he did, it would be to the Vice President. The op-ed, however, described more than a misstatement. It read like more of a criminal conspiracy – a mutiny, of sorts.

In our judicial system, anonymous accusations are not allowed. A person has a constitutional right to know and face any accuser or witness for all the obvious reasons. Secret accusers are the tradition of dictatorships. Unfortunately, the court-of-public-opinion is devoid of such safeguards.

Whatever one thinks of Trump or the accuracy of the descriptions set forth in the op-ed, every American should be saddened and, in fact, scared to see this sort of scurrilous and unethical reporting. And to think it comes from what the left loves to refer to as their “newspaper of record.”

About Author

Larry Horist

Larry Horist

Larry Horist is a conservative activist with an extensive background in economics, public policy and politics. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman, as well as the White House. He has testified as an expert witness before legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress, and lectured at major colleges and universities. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He can be reached at lph@thomasandjoyce.com.

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4 Comments

  1. Pxxat5
    Pxxat5 September 10, 17:26

    Mr. HORIST, Thank You sir,you have written exactly what I have been saying and thinking. I hope your article get the greatest distribution possible, so all can read you sanguine words of wisdom.

    Reply to this comment
  2. California Conservative
    California Conservative September 10, 18:36

    “Truth-Telling 101” Excellent article! Clearly, there is no there there. Utter garbage from the most prodigious and profound liars in America.

    Reply to this comment
  3. dlp
    dlp September 10, 20:02

    Swamp dwellers will find change is hard to handle when “draining the swamp”. Making America Great Again comes with hard change. You have to think something is moving in the right direction when a swamp dweller and a next to dead newspaper conspire to make headlines.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Doug
    Doug September 11, 03:03

    The NY Times motto says it all: “All the news that’s fit to tint.”

    Reply to this comment

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