Tucker Carlson started his show Wednesday night by saying he has a good idea who wrote an anonymous hit piece about the Donald Trump White House that was published that afternoon by The New York Times and has been creating a mini-firestorm in the political world.
“It was written anonymously. It’s the work of someone who claims to be an official inside the Trump administration, a member of the underground resistance within the West Wing,” Carlson said of the commentary piece, according to The Hill.
“We think we’ve got a pretty good idea who wrote this piece,” Carlson continued. “We’ve called the White House for comment on it tonight, but until we can confirm the identity, of course, we’re not going to accuse anyone in public. We’ll keep you posted on that.”
The Op-Ed in question was written for The Times by someone claiming to be a member of the Trump administration.
The disclaimer offered by The Times claimed the author was “a senior official in the Trump administration whose identity is known to us and whose job would be jeopardized by its disclosure.”
The content of the article itself is framed in scathing terms, but when it’s read with an element of skepticism, it comes across as griping by a subordinate of the kind that could be familiar in any organization with a high-profile leader.
Carlson summarized the article’s portrayal of Trump as someone who is an “unpredictable and mercurial boss who is light on policy detail and given to say outlandish things.”
We already know these things about Trump. Anybody who watches only a few minutes of media coverage on Trump could have written it.
The fact that it was supposedly written by someone from within Trump’s own administration gives it added weight, of course. But when the writer openly admits to “working diligently from within to frustrate parts of (Trump’s) agenda and his worst inclinations,” readers should beware that they’re reading the words of a clearly disgruntled individual — and someone whose own motivation and agenda can only be guessed.
That is the problem with anonymous sources. They often give too much attention to stories that should not have any attention, and allow criticism of well-known figures by individuals shielded by the anonymity the media grants them.
The use of anonymous sources by the establishment media has backfired before.
An instance of this is when CNN ran a story about Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen knowing the president had prior knowledge of the Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer.
One of the unnamed sources in that story ended up being Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, who later admitted “I did not know the details about that meeting, and I should not have encouraged any reporter,” according to Fox News.
Davis had some advice for the media, “Don’t even float stories on background, which is our expression for anonymously, unless you have a certainty of the facts, and you’re asking reporters to go look to confirm those facts.”
Anti-Trump stories — or any news stories, for that matter — based on anonymous sources should be taken with a grain of salt until the source is revealed. And even then, some skepticism is definitely in order.
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