WTF Community

Who is mystery NY Times Op Ed Author


#1

Who do you think wrote the Op-Ed in The NY Times last week?

Please speculate wildly!!


Day 788
#2

I’ll go first. Slate had one the most compelling theories that it may be the US Ambassador to Russia, John Huntsman. Really what made this the most interesting to me is the part in the piece which talks about Huntsman’s adoration of McCain and the context in which “lodestar” was used.

Country first. The op-ed glorifies the late Sen. John McCain. It calls him a “lodestar,” the word used by Henry Kissinger at McCain’s Sept. 1 memorial service to describe the senator. It concludes with this line: “There is a quiet resistance within the administration of people choosing to put country first.” “Country first” was McCain’s presidential campaign slogan in 2008. Huntsman, who idolized McCain, adopted the same slogan for his 2012 presidential campaign. A week ago, after McCain died, Huntsman lauded McCain as his mentor and recalled his motto, “Country first.” Huntsman also flew back from Moscow to attend the memorial service.

Could be anyone really and only the NY Times really knows.


(Matt Kiser) #3

Aides to President Donald Trump believe they have the search for the anonymous author of the New York Times op-ed that shook the political world down to a few individuals, a source close to the White House told CNN on Friday.

Trump is still “obsessed” with finding the person, though he is being counseled by White House chief of staff John Kelly to let it pass, to avoid bringing more attention to the claims in the op-ed. The opinion piece was written by an anonymous senior administration official alleging an internal resistance to the President in his own administration.
CNN is not aware of the identity of the individuals White House aides have zeroed in on. In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Trump believes the individual is someone from the national security sector of the government.


#4

Ivanka and Jared blame John Kelly for the leaks and the Op Ed.

With Trump so far unable to execute a strategy to stanch the drip-drip-drip of damaging disclosures, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have taken the lead in getting control of the crisis. (The Washington Post reported that Trump said the only people he could trust were his family.) Earlier this week, they told Trump they were deeply troubled by the accounts in Woodward’s book and blamed Chief of Staff John Kelly for many of the leaks, an outside adviser close to them told me. “‘He’s destroying your presidency,’” Ivanka told her father, the outside adviser, who was briefed on the conversation, said. Their hunt for the author of the Times op-ed may bring them into the final chapter of their long-running feud with Kelly.


#5

Axios casts doubt on the seniority the author within the White House ranks.

The big question: But how senior is “senior”? Does the author meet what the “Morning Joe” hosts called the “household name” test? Or is this actually a swampier, murkier version of “senior”?

But in the few clues the paper has given, there are real questions about whether the “household name” test will be met:

Hmmm 1: Answering reader questions in a piece posted yesterday (“How the Anonymous Op-Ed Came to Be”), deputy editorial page editor (and Op-Ed Editor) Jim Dao said vetting included “direct communication with the author, some background checking and the testimony of [a] trusted intermediary.” If the official were famous, how much testimony would you need?

Hmmm 2, pointed out by Jonathan Swan: The Op-Ed author writes that “a top official” had “complained to me recently, exasperated by an Oval Office meeting at which the president flip-flopped on a major policy decision he’d made only a week earlier.” Would an actual top official describe a peer as a “top official”?

Hmmm 3, and this is the biggest one of all: Dao told Michael Barbaro on The Times’ podcast, “The Daily” that on the “senior administration official” terminology, “All I can say is I feel that we followed a definition that has been used by our newsroom in the past.” Whoa! A former (actual) senior administration official instantly phoned me to say what a red flag that is: Journalists are notoriously liberal in their definition of who constitutes a “senior administration official.”


#6

Yes, who’s going to crack this one? Pretty difficult.

From what I have surmised with a lot of input from various media (MSNBC, Networks, print, twitter etc) - it has everyone stumped. Depending on what kind of argument you formulate you could come up with a lot of choices.

The couple that have recently stuck out are:

  1. Gen. John Kelly - Potential choice. He has NOT denied writing the Op-Ed piece. He called the WH ‘Crazytown.’ Had an abiding respect for McCain, and the military and the Op Ed and remarks happened right on the heels of McCain’s funeral.

  2. Jared and Ivanka - they want to have a life after this WH is over and want to preserve what small shred of dignity they might have. It is conceivable that they may have done something like this.

(Note: Saw on a broadcast this week - on MSNBC, forgot which show but right after the OP-Ed came out, there was a small gathering inside T’s office - in attendance - Sarah H Sanders (NO), John Kelly (Possible Yes), Jared and Ivanka (possible yes) and KellyAnne Conway (possible yes.) News of said gathering made it to the press, and so that narrows it to this little group potentially.

AND

The discussion of these four prospects:
Andrew Bremberg, Assistant to Prez and Domestic policy maker
Bill Stepien White House political director
Nick Ayers, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence
John DeStefano, a former aide to John Boehner

Here’s one guess that is boring, but makes quite a bit more sense than any of the high-profile grifters in Trump’s cabinet who might otherwise have written the essay: Andrew Bremberg, an assistant to the president and director of the Domestic Policy Council, an under-the-radar body which “supervises the development, coordination, and execution of domestic policy in the White House,” and which has virtually no internet presence in Trump’s White House.

Of the four, Bremberg’s potential departure has been reported far more than anyone else on the list. The rest don’t seem to be going anywhere: Nick Ayers, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, was reported to be a potential successor to John Kelly in June; John DeStefano, a former aide to John Boehner, got a nice writeup by Politico earlier this year for “cultivating friends and allies” in the White House; and when White House political director Bill Stepien was picked for Politico’s 50 last year, he was described by multiple people as being loyal to Trump.

On the contrary, Bremberg’s been much fussier in the press about wanting to leave the White House. In November, Politico reported that Bremberg had “told associates that he plans to leave the administration in January.” The next month, the Weekly Standard wrote that Bremberg “has expressed frustration and may be looking to leave soon.”

And in July, ABC News reported that Bremberg—along with White House counsel Don McGahn and legislative affairs director Marc Short—would stay through the end of the Kavanaugh confirmation. Bremberg was described as having a “minor role” in the process.

There are discussions about KellyAnne Conway and she is historically the greatest leaker in the WH. She also has the best contacts at the NYT…and would be able to find entree there easily. They say (Morning Joe MSNCB) that KellyAnne is crafty enough to write ‘Lodestar’ and make it seem like it was Pence. And KellyAnne’s contrasting personal views were seen in the Green Room at MSNBC, where she did not seem fully endorsing the T candidacy show (something akin to “this is like going to a big car rally, you have to like big car rallies”).

(But KellyAnne has gone out of her way on all the Sunday AM talk shows to condemn and criminalize the Op-Ed writer. so she’s a longshot)

Whoever it is, we have gotten denials from everyone (Except Kelly)…so we are talking about a denying denier.

Oh, boy…


What's driving the narrative? Is it fake news, PR stunts, real legal arguments?
#7

This was a tweet that read: Found it!


#8

What becomes of the Op Ed writer…something good or redeeming. This article questions all that.

Set aside whether the writer is a courageous patriot or a gutless coward, and whether the Times was right or wrong to grant anonymity. Set aside the White House’s mole hunt to flush out the leaker, and the two dozen “senior administration officials” who rushed to insist they were not the traitor in their midst. Set aside, too, the rash insistence of the libertarian Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky that suspects should submit to lie-detector tests to prove their fealty.

Settle on this, though: The writer who would shoot the king to save him, and by extension the country, aimed the arrow awfully low. Defending “effective deregulation, historic tax cuts, a more robust military and more.” Seriously? Defending those relatively modest goals and achievements when—by the writer’s own perfervid, urgent reckoning—the security of the republic, the sanctity of the Constitution, and, just maybe, the fate of the Earth is at stake?

The smallness of those stakes calls to mind Sir Thomas More’s famous remonstrance in A Man for All Seasons, when he upbraids a colleague for perjuring himself in exchange for a minor Welsh appointment: “For Wales? Why, Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world … But for Wales?”

Ellsberg had no such luck. For his troubles, when his identity became known, the Nixon White House Plumbers broke into his psychiatrist’s office in search of incriminating information. None was found, but the damage was done, as the White House Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman noted in a taped conversation with Nixon in June 1971. Haldeman cited the observation of Donald Rumsfeld, then a White House domestic-policy adviser, that to “the ordinary guy” the Pentagon papers were “a bunch of gobbledygook.”

“But out of the gobbledygook,” Haldeman added, “comes a very clear thing … You can’t trust the government, you can’t believe what they say, and you can’t rely on their judgment. And the—the implicit infallibility of presidents, which has been an accepted thing in America, is badly hurt by this because it shows that people do things the president wants to do even though it’s wrong, and the president can be wrong.”

Think about that: Nixon’s own most loyal aides—Haldeman, Rumsfeld—recognized the damage that Ellsberg’s revelations had done. Sure, they acknowledged the damage only in private, and, yes, they launched the unsparing campaign of retribution that helped lead to Nixon’s downfall. But Ellsberg’s leak involved something much bigger, vastly more important than “effective deregulation, historic tax cuts, a more robust military and more.”

If only the Times’ Mr. or Ms. X had shown the courage (or folly) of Ronald Reagan’s first budget director, David Stockman. Thirty-seven years ago, he had the temerity to say (out loud, and under his own name) that the administration’s economic policy was out of whack, that its much-promised, much-lauded tax cuts had not been matched by comparable spending discipline. “None of us really understands what’s going on with all these numbers,” Stockman told the journalist William Greider. Where did he say that? In the pages of this magazine. Its editorial heirs are all ears for anyone in the Trump administration who cares about more than “effective deregulation, historic tax cuts, a more robust military and more,” and who might be willing to say as much to the whole wide world, out loud.


(M A Croft) #9

Ok! Here is a really wild speculation from the the First Dog on the Moon - down under :wink:


(M A Croft) #10

Here is another wild speculation - but I think it might have some credence. It’s not one person but a group effort that is aimed at moving the centre away from Trump with the forth-coming midterm elections in mind. So that Republican candidates in closely fought electorates can distance themselves away from Trump.

Since my opinion is about as good as anyone else’s when it comes to speculating about the author, and since I have not seen this particular angle covered as of yet, let me offer the following possibility:

The op ed is a joint effort by mainstream Republican insiders now serving in the White House. It was released with at least the tacit knowledge of the Republican congressional leaders, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, and it has been done as a way of terminally undermining Trump in the run up to the November 2018 mid term elections. The reason is that the authors and GOP leadership may well believe that they are headed to a landslide loss in November if they continue to ride Trump’s coattails. For them, it is not so much the possibility of Trump being impeached that is a primary concern (if the Democrats regain a majority in the House he certainly will be impeached), but of the disruption to their legislative agenda if they lose control of Congress. Should they lose the House and even more so if they lose the Senate as well, the GOP will be dead in the water when it comes to advancing its policy agenda. And although the economy is strong, they know that Trump’s disapproval ratings are at record levels and his divisiveness is corrosive to the national well-being, something that has prompted a rise in youth and ethnic minority political involvement and a shift to the Left in Democratic congressional primaries at the same time that cleavages between mainstream and populist Republicans in their primaries grow larger. None of this augers well for Republican electoral chances on November 6.

By the tone and language of the op ed, the authors are mainstream “traditional” Republicans, not Tea Party adherents, economic nationalists like Steve Bannon or alt-Right freaks like Stephen Miller. They clearly exhibit insider knowledge of beltway politics and congressional dynamics. The language used in the essay suggests that the two retired generals that are senior administration officials–Chief of Staff John Kelly and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis–are not centrally involved even if phrases attributed to them appeared in the text (although they may have been aware of the drafting process).

Pence could be involved as an author. As Vice President he stands to gain much if Trump resigns, and as a former congressman before becoming Indiana Governor, he has close ties to the GOP Congressional caucuses. But Jeff Sessions could also be involved in the drafting of the op ed. A former Senator and current Attorney General who has been the subject of relentless attacks by Trump for recusing himself from the Mueller investigation into Russian involvement with the Trump presidential campaign, Sessions shares the views outlined in the Times piece. He has ties to Congress that go back decades and he has a motive for revenge. Kelly Ann Conway is another likely conspirator. Married to a long-standing GOP operative who despises Trump and herself a long-time Republican strategist, she has the worldview presented in the op ed and the connections to the “steady state” that is said to be running things in the pursuit of stability and consistency under the nose of the irrational fool in charge.

So my take is this. Regardless of who exactly are involved, no one individual in the White House would have the courage to write the Resistance essay alone. But a group of mainstream Republican senior officials stuck with an incompetent, ignorant, narcissistic sociopath as leader of their own party as well as president, one who could well be leading them to a historic defeat that could in turn irretrievably fracture the Party, might well have decided to put their heads together and come up with a plan to undermine Trump in order to force his ouster via resignation. They will not come forth and give their names because to do so would allow Trump to regain some initiative by firing them. Remaining anonymous and in the shadows so close to the Oval Office has and will send Trump into a witch hunting frenzy that, given his obsessive personality, will dominate every aspect of his routine. And in the measure that he obsesses about leakers and scurries to rallies in order to seek comfort and solace far from the isolation he feels in Washington, the more nothing else will get done when it comes to Executive policy-making. Along with the ongoing vendettas, feuds, insults and scandals that are the daily circus that is Trump’s “crazyland” (as General Kelly purportedly referred to it), that makes it easier for Republican candidates to abandon him in all but the most die hard pro-Trump districts. Since those districts alone cannot keep a GOP House majority, it is in contestable districts where the GOP choice to ride his coattails or jump ship is starkest. The Resistance op ed is a signal to them as to which way to go.

So, as others have already pointed out, there is a slow moving coup at play here. It is not coming from the armed forces and/or Democratic Party. It is coming from within the Republican Party in an effort to save itself from the cancer that is Trump. The questions are whether the Resistance coup will succeed and whether it will be enough to save the Republicans from what they have become.


You might find this shot bio of the author interesting:

Raised in Latin America by expat American parents and attracted to anti-authoritarian politics beginning in his early teens, he combined a career in academia with episodic forays into the US security and defence apparatus before emigrating to New Zealand in 1997. After ten years in New Zealand academia followed by three in Singapore, he is now engaged in political risk consulting with an emphasis on Australasian-global relations. After arriving in New Zealand he developed an interest in small state analysis and the security politics of peripheral democracies (Chile, Greece, New Zealand and Portugal in particular).

#11

Some say that theory points directly to Dan Coats, the National Director of Intelligence, since he is trying to quell outrage by otherwise conservative who may vote for more congressional control. I have to say that the portrait the writer depicts can best be visualized as a rodeo cowboy on a raging bull that has lasted long after the timer ended. ‘We’re OK here, and you liked the extra $$ in your pocket, so let’s keep it up.’ Dan Coats, or Mike Kelly, because neither of them want to be remembered for their work in this administration.


#12

Ok…good deductions…

Could be

Pence
Jeff Sessions
KellyAnne

Interesting…!


#13


#14

FFS, Trump only trusts family and Stephen Miller? Great. :woman_shrugging:t2:

His son Don Jr. has told people he’s worried Trump isn’t sleeping because of it, a source said. Meetings have been derailed by Trump’s suspicion. “If you look at him the wrong way, he’ll spend the next hour thinking you wrote it,” a Republican close to the White House said. Much of what’s fueling Trump’s paranoia is that he has no clear way to identify the author. One adviser said Trump has instructed aides to call the anonymous author a “coward” in public to shame him or her. “He’s going to continue to shame this person,” a person close to Trump said. “The author will break under pressure or will eventually say, ‘fuck it, it’s me.’” Plans to administer polygraph tests to staff have seemingly died. “Nobody knows who it is,” a former official said.

Besides family, one of the only people Trump continues to trust is Stephen Miller. “The op-ed has validated Miller’s view, which was also Steve Bannon’s, that there’s an ‘administrative state’ out to get Trump,” a Republican close to the White House said. “There is a coup, and it’s not slow-rolling or concealed,” Bannon told me. “Trump believes there’s a coup,” a person familiar with his thinking said. Trump’s relationship with Secretary of Defense James Mattis, which was already strained, has become almost nonexistent, a former official said.


#15

Ann Coulter is gunning for Jared as the writer of the Op-Ed. She is an insuffereable conservative mouthpiece, and follows the same logic as others who have said that it could be Jared and Ivanka. These two don’t want to be besmirched by T’s ill deeds.

Thinly veiled - CYA.

Ann Coulter thinks President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is the one who wrote the NY Times op-ed attacking Trump.

The author of the op-ed described a group in the White House that are actively working against the president’s agenda and impulses.

Coulter told the Daily Beast she thinks Kushner wrote it for a number of reasons including, “Because he and Ivanka are going to have to go back to the Upper East Side and go to the Hamptons.”


#16

She’s not a conservative, she’s a right-wing extremist with a white nationalist dog whistle.


(Stacey N.) #17

Thanks! You made my day macro! :joy:


#18

At first I laughed like everyone else I know, but after further consideration whoever it is has left me relatively certain that the existence of this piece belies the fact that there are not, in fact, adults in the room. I’ve had my theories since it came out, but I gave up a few days ago when I realized that it doesn’t really matter, it was an incredibly dangerous thing to do. If just one person authored it, they destroyed any hope that anyone actually working to keep the President and his administration from turning the country into a crater could be successful. If they all authored it, it’s pretty clear that there are no adults, only a bunch of really sad, guilty people with hero complexes who have seen one too many political fantasy movies.

At first I thought Kelly or Mattis, but honestly I think those two are smarter than that. I doubt Carson, Mnuchin, Conway or Sanders have the wits to write something like this. Sessions has enough problems of his own right now, and the other big players seem to agree too strongly with the President’s world view to want to see it written at all.

Lesser-noticed Cabinet members? Aides? Maintenance? Although that last one would pretty on the nose. It was so reckless that to me it’s only further proof that all of these people need to be out of there as soon as possible.


#19


#20

IMO, the opinion piece is a reflection of the state of politics in the country that allowed Trump to assume the office. It is an out growth of the extreme partiasan climate that has existed for years and the lies and viscous political advertising and campaigns.