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

Trump acknowledges lists of disloyal government officials to oust

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump on Monday acknowledged the existence of assembled lists of government officials that his administration plans to oust and replace with trusted pro-Trump people, which were first reported by Axios' Jonathan Swan.

What he's saying: “I don’t think it's a big problem. I don’t think it's very many people,” Trump said during a press conference in India, adding he wants “people who are good for the country, loyal to the country.”

Coronavirus only part of the story behind the Dow’s drop

Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

As someone has certainly told you by now, the Dow fell by more than 1,000 points yesterday, its worst day in more than two years, erasing all of 2020's gains. Most news headlines assert that the stock market's momentum was finally broken by "coronavirus fears," but that's not the full story.

What's happening: The novel coronavirus has been infecting and killing scores of people for close to a month and, depending on the day, the market has sold off or risen to record highs.

Bernie's historic Jewish fight

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Sen. Bernie Sanders would be the first Jewish presidential nominee of a major American political party — but that history-making possibility is being overshadowed by his conflicts with America's Jewish leaders and Israel's leadership.

The big picture: That's partly because we're all focusing on the implications of Democrats nominating a self-described democratic socialist. It's also because a candidate's religion no longer seems to matter as much to voters or the media, making the potential milestone of a Jewish nominee more of a non-event.