I personally can’t believe the author of the notorious anti-Trump op-ed in the New York Times wasn’t discovered over the weekend. The Trump administration reportedly has 12 potential candidates for authorship, yet no one was actually assigned culpability. (RELATED: White House Narrows Down Anonymous Op-Ed Author to 12 Possibilities.)
So Washington’s parlor game du jour continues, as journalists still try to grapple with who actually wrote the controversial piece.
Over the weekend, Mike Allen of Axios, one of the more connected gossips in the Beltway, actually changed his mind on the nature of the op-ed author. Before, we reported that Allen was convinced the writer really was a “senior official,” meaning that he or she was a household name. (RELATED: Washington Post Reporter Implies NYT Anonymous Author Not a Significant Administration Official.)
Allen has since changed his tune, and now suspects the author is a nobody, and might not actually warrant the title “senior” within the administration.
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) September 9, 2018
In his weekend newsletter, Allen brought up three new facts about the story behind the op-ed that changed his mind. First, he pointed out that Jim Dao, the NYT’s opinion section editor, needed “testimony” from a “trusted intermediary” in order to verify that the author indeed worked in the administration. Allen asks: “If the official were famous, how much testimony would you need?”
The second clue is a big one: Within the editorial, the author describes an interaction with a colleague lamenting about one of President Trump initiatives as conferring with a “top official.” This is significant because, as Allen asks, “Would an actual top official describe a peer as a ‘top official’?”
Lastly, Allen brings up a point that The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler brought up previously: Dao admitted the criteria for designating the author a “senior official” has been used a lot in the past. Given that the title “senior official” has been used for an indefinite number of government officials in the past by the Times and other news outlets, this again suggests the author isn’t exactly a household name.
Eek: “I feel that we followed a definition that has been used by our newsroom in the past.” This suggests Anonymous is not member of Cabinet or senior WH official, in which case it should not have been printed. 100s would qualify under this rubric. https://t.co/bKdBKf2TsX
— Glenn Kessler (@GlennKesslerWP) September 6, 2018
The emergence of these clues means that it will be harder for the Trump administration to actually find the real author. This is needle-in-a-haystack territory. But the President is determined to discover the identity. He may not stop until he has a name.
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