Hurricane-strength BS: The uncanny similarities of Woodward’s book and the NY Times anonymous Op-Ed

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By Donald Kirk

WASHINGTON ― We hear so much speculation as to who wrote the infamous, anonymous New York Times op-ed, “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration,” it’s surprising we hear not a word about whether the piece was actually an inside job.

That is, could the author or authors have been one or more of those brilliant people who write columns and editorials for the Times, all dedicated to tearing him apart for just about any reason.

Hurricane Florence: ‘Was it mere coincidence that “off the rails” appears in both The Times commentary and Woodward’s book?’

So full of vitriolic venom are some of their commentaries, is it conceivable that some of them got together and said, Look, we’ve really got to get this guy where it hurts. They signal the rationale in that smarmy italicized introduction to the piece in which they, that is, the editorial “we,” state sanctimoniously, “We believe publishing this essay anonymously is the only way to deliver an important perspective to our readers.”

Oh sure, after all “we,” that is “we journalists,” are taught “we” really should not use anonymous “informed sources” or “authoritative sources” or “observers” or “analysts” at all if “we” can help it. Times reporters play by much the same rules. Whatever their biases about Trump, you don’t see too many blind quotes or much unattributed material.

You would think The Times, in the interests of full disclosure, of letting the world know what’s going on, would relent and reveal the identity of the author of this piece after finally deciding that the public’s right to know superseded the reason given for hiding the author’s name, that his or her “job would be jeopardized by its disclosure.” Oh really? After badmouthing the boss in the White House to such devastating effect, does it matter if the person keeps his/her job? Surely he or she would find a new job right away, maybe at The Times, if his/her identity were revealed.

But might there be another more compelling reason why The Times keeps its secret? Might not those clever wordsmiths who write so meanly about Trump have decided, Look we have to get this guy, it’s a matter of principle, the future of the country is at stake, we can throw a stick of dynamite into the White House by suggesting someone close to the president has plotted with “like-minded colleagues… to thwart parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.”

Might not the Times people have shrewdly timed publication of their diatribe to coincide with the release of Bob Woodward’s blockbuster, “Fear,” which skewers Trump for the same reasons but at much greater length? While Woodward’s book was making headlines, The Times’ piece de resistance rode the wave of anti-Trump publicity with diabolical timing.

The writing showed their finesse. The piece was worded to present its author as a reasonable person driven only by the altruistic desire to let the country know what’s really going on, as in, “To be clear, ours is not the popular ‘resistance’ of the Left.”

Ah, so smart. Who would imagine one of those smart Times columnists, definitely on the liberal if not the leftist side of things, would want to distance himself/herself from “the Left”? What a great way to throw the suspicious reader off the scent. And just to show the author is truly a conservative, he or she carefully notes that “the president shows little affinity for ideals long espoused by conservatives: free minds, free markets and free people.”

The deception gets trickier still with the observation, “There are bright spots that the near-ceaseless negative coverage of the administration fails to capture: effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more.” What a great way to convince silly readers that the author is a true-blue Republican, loving all that stuff The Times hates ― “deregulation” and “tax reform,” typical targets of Times editorials.

The author of this piece knew perfectly how to throw around the language and tone of the quotes in Woodward’s book. “Meetings with him veer off the topic and off the rails, “says the piece, using the same cliche that Woodward attributes to White House chief of staff John Kelly, quoted in “Fear” as saying Trump has “gone off the rails.”

Was it mere coincidence that “off the rails” appears in both The Times commentary and Woodward’s book ― or was whoever wrote The Times piece trying to suggest that maybe Kelly was the author? If we are to suspect the commentary was indeed an inside job, may we also assume the purpose here was to mimic Kelly’s lingo for the sake of authenticity and verisimilitude?

The note preceding the commentary invites readers to “submit a question about the essay or our vetting process,” but it’s doubtful if The Times, flooded with words of approval from its core anti-Trump readers, is concerned about serious criticism.

More to the point, the commentary concludes with a line that precisely reflects Times editorial policy. “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,” the author concludes. “We have sunk low with him and allowed our discourse to be stripped of civility.”

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