Sep 5, 2018

What they're saying: Scathing NYT op-ed sparks mixed political reaction

President Donald Trump. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

A bombshell New York Times op-ed on Wednesday, written by an anonymous senior administration official, immediately triggered suspense across the political spectrum, leaving journalists and observers guessing the author's identity.

Our thought bubble: The NYT op-ed, in which the author said he's part of a "resistance" working to thwart the president's agenda, reinforces and feeds into Trump's preconceived idea about a vast "Deep State" inside his administration.

What they’re saying:
  • President Trump: "Anonymous. Can you believe it? Anonymous. Meaning gutless. A gutless editorial."
  • Press Secretary Sarah Sanders: “The individual behind this piece has chosen to to deceive, rather than support, the duly elected President of the United States. He is not putting the country first, but putting himself and his ego ahead of the will of the American people. This coward should do the right thing and resign.”
  • Ari Fleischer, former George W. Bush White House Press Secretary: "It's impossible to evaluate how important it is without knowing how high up the author is. There are hundreds of people at the WH who think they're 'senior' officials. ... If it's a career official, or even a disenchanted, mid-level political appointee, it's not such a big deal. The NYT giving it anonymity (Mr. X), makes it appear bigger than it likey is."
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told CNN: "I've never heard that before. This palace intrigue. I don't mean to bust a bubble here, but most people in south Carolina are not going to take the op-ed in "The New York Times" very seriously. … President trump, in my world, where I live, in South Carolina, most people are very pleased with what the president's doing."
  • Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN): "This is what all of us have understood to be the situation from day one... I understand this is the case and that’s why I think all of us encourage the good people around the President to stay. I thank General Mattis whenever I see him."
  • Geraldo Rivera, Fox News commentator: "Reading #NYT op ed from "resistance underground" in Trump Whitehouse made me gag. A chicken shit traitor, an unelected bureaucrat without courage to either go public or quit, who professes without specifics to have "saved" nation from @realDonaldTrump is just a self-serving punk."
  • Brian Stelter, CNN media correspondent: "This unnamed op-ed is ALMOST unprecedented. Per an NYT spokesperson, the paper has only done this a few times in its history, most recently for this piece by an unnamed asylum seeker from El Salvador."

The New York Times released a statement standing by its rare anonymous op-ed saying, "We are incredibly proud to have published this piece, which adds significant value to the public's understanding of what is going on in the Trump administration from someone who is in a position to know."

The timing: The piece comes a day after excerpts from a damning book about Trump's presidency authored by veteran journalist Bob Woodward revealed that top officials close to Trump are increasingly worried about his leadership and conduct in office.

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 1:30 a.m. ET: 5,695,155 — Total deaths: 355,688 — Total recoveries — 2,351,177Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 1:30 a.m. ET: 1,699,933 — Total deaths: 100,442 — Total recoveries: 391,508 — Total tested: 15,192,481Map.
  3. Public health: CDC issues guidelines for reopening officesFauci says data is "really quite evident" against hydroxychloroquine.
  4. States: California hospitals strained by patients in MexicoTexas Supreme Court blocks mail-in expansion to state voters.
  5. Business: MGM plans to reopen major Las Vegas resorts in June — African American business owners have seen less relief from PPP, Goldman Sachs says.
  6. Tech: AI will help in the pandemic — but it might not be in time for this one.
  7. World: EU proposes a massive pandemic rescue package.
  8. 1 🎶 thing: Local music venues get rocked by coronavirus.
  9. 🎧 Podcast: Trump vs. Twitter ... vs. Trump.
  10. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  11. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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