The Anonymous New York Times Op-Ed on Trump and Why It Matters

Amidst the constant whirlwind of disheartening political news and ridiculous tweets coming from the White House, you may have heard about a certain anonymous op-ed posted by The New York Times. But what is an "op-ed," and does it really matter any more than the hundreds of other articles that come out about Trump every day?

An op-ed, short for "opposite of the editorial page," is an opinion essay written in a newspaper or magazine by someone who is not employed by that newspaper or magazine. The opinion essay posted by The New York Times on September 5th titled "I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration" was marked as anonymous, but it claims that the author is a senior official in the Trump administration and that The Times does know the identity of this individual. 

In writing this article, the author wants to calm some of the fear many people harbor about President Trump's administration with the reassurance that there are people high up within this administration actively working against Trump to counteract some of his impulsivity and political ineptitude. This individual argues that there are certain threats to national security and stability that Trump poses, which White House officials recognize regardless of their party affiliation. According to the author, Trumps "amorality" is the root of the problem and something that every person who works with him acknowledges. However, there are actions taking place against the President in order to thwart this amorality, not only by public opposition but also allegedly in a "quiet opposition" by those who are closest to him in the White House and in other executive branch departments and agencies. 

If this article is accurate, then it could be one small piece of "good" political news in the sea of negative portrayals of our current political situation. It shows that although the White House's disarray is not simply hearsay or "fake news" as President Trump would like to make it seem, there is action against Trump's "impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective" leadership style, even by those who would identify themselves as a part of the Republican party. 

Unsurprisingly, President Trump has responded to this exposé with a stream of tweets—the first being simply “TREASON?”—and a declaration that he wants the Attorney General to investigate the source of the article and sue the writer. He has also (again, unsurprisingly) attacked The New York Times, calling the op-ed a "gutless editorial" and predicting that "phony media outlets" (including The Times) will all be out of business after his presidency. Trump consistently attacked the media during his election campaign and now continues his opposition to the media in his presidency with claims of "fake news" and even threats of restricting free press. His response to this op-ed further exposes his disregard for freedom of speech and freedom of the press—pillars of American democracy—when it comes to the opposition of his presidency. 

This news is in some ways discouraging and in other ways hopeful; it demonstrates both the dire situation within the White House and an effort to change it, a threat to free speech as well as an example of the principle in action. Although it isn't revelatory that there are White House officials who disapprove of the way President Trump conducts himself, it could be promising that, according to the op-ed, many of them have vowed to go against his worst inclinations and that one official in particular felt strongly enough about the situation to write the article in the first place.