Saturday, October 31, 2020

A bad presidency for everything anonymous

For three years, maybe closer to four, we've read stories based on "anonymous" sources or my favorite "people familiar with the situation."  The net result was a bunch of anti-Trump stories that turned out to be false.  

The latest example may have topped them all.  In other words, a guy pretending to to be familiar with the inner working of the Trump White House wrote a story under the pen name of, you guessed it. "anonymous".

It turned out to be a travesty, as the Washington Examiner editorial pointed out:    

Now that we know that Miles Taylor was the “Anonymous” resistance figure who boasted in a New York Times op-ed that he was working from within the administration to stymie President Trump's agenda, we can dispense with the parlor game of trying to reveal the official’s identity.

The fact that the person whom the New York Times identified as a “senior official” was granted anonymity in itself was an extraordinary breach of standard journalistic practice regarding the use of anonymous sources.   

At the time the oped was published, CNN’s Chris Cillizza assured readers, “That the decision was made to publish it should tell you that this isn't some disgruntled mid-to-upper manager buried in the bureaucracy. This is a genuine high-ranking official. A name most people who follow politics -- and maybe some who don't -- would recognize. The Times simply wouldn't do what it did for anything short of a major figure in Trump world.”

Well, talk about a letdown.  The high-ranking official turned out to be a bureaucrat with little if any proximity to anything called the Trump White House.

Memo to the wise:  Don't trust anything with "Anonymous" in the content.

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