Accuracy in Media

With the revelation of the identity of “Anonymous,” the previously unnamed “senior official in the Trump administration,” questions have been raised by the Washington Post as to whether the New York Times accurately described exactly how “senior” Miles Taylor really was.

The Post’s Paul Farhi and Sarah Ellison point out that Taylor, who disclosed on Twitter that he wrote the column, “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration,” that the Times published in September 2018 has become a prominent anti-Trump contributor on CNN and is the co-founder of a group called the Republican Political Alliance for Integrity and Reform, which supports the Biden campaign.

Taylor’s op-ed blasted Trump and set tongues wagging as to who the “senior” official could be with speculation running rampant about which high-level administration official it could be.  He also published a best-selling book entitled “A Warning.”

Farhi and Ellison went on to list the various roles Taylor had at the Department of Homeland Security, noting that his job as deputy chief of staff when his op-ed was published probably didn’t merit a “senior official” status.

Former Clinton administration press secretary Joe Lockhart told the Post that he wouldn’t describe him as a senior administration official saying that the definition in his mind refers to assistants to the president, Cabinet officials, and the principals and deputies in the national security apparatus. “That’s what I think of when I read that term, and that’s what I think a lot of other people think,” he added.

While the term “senior administration official” is widely used by journalists to describe unnamed officials with access to information, they determined correctly in this case that the label was misapplied in the case of Taylor and helped propel his book to best-seller status.

“But in Taylor’s case, the phrase was crucial to lending his column and book gravitas. Some guessed that ‘Anonymous’ might be a Cabinet official, a prominent top adviser like Kellyanne Conway or even Vice President Pence. The guessing game that surrounded ‘Anonymous’ fueled interest in his column and book, much as anonymity drove interest in the 1996 novel “Primary Colors,” a roman à clef about President Bill Clinton that was later revealed to have been written not by a White House insider but by Time magazine columnist Joe Klein.”

The Times abetted Taylor’s effort to sell the public a bill of goods in order to discredit Trump administration policies, but now that he has come public, even the media is questioning his credibility considering his involvement with policies that they find abhorrent laving the Times with egg on its face.



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