Originally Posted: September 6, 2018
Jeffrey Engel, director of the SMU Center for Presidential History, is quoted in this article.
What does a Trump administration official have in common with a woman fleeing gang violence in El Salvador and a student in Iran speaking out against Ahmadinejad? They share the rare distinction of having written anonymous op-eds for the New York Times.
On Wednesday, the Times published an anonymous op-ed by a senior official inside the Trump administration claiming to be part of “the resistance,” working to thwart Trump’s “worst inclinations” from within the White House. The author called the president’s leadership style “impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective,” and claimed to be working, along with “likeminded colleagues,” to limit the damage done by this administration and protect the American people.
“It may be cold comfort in this chaotic era, but Americans should know that there are adults in the room,” the author wrote. “We fully recognize what is happening. And we are trying to do what’s right even when Donald Trump won’t.”
In a note at the top of the piece, the paper explained that the author’s job would be at risk if their identity was known and, “We believe publishing this essay anonymously is the only way to deliver an important perspective to our readers.”
Trump immediately lashed out, calling the piece “gutless,” and appearing to suggest on Twitter that it amounted to treason. The Internet has gone wild with speculation as to whom might have written the op-ed, with bookies reportedly taking bets about the author’s identity. The piece has already been widely satirized and debated.
Jeffrey Engel, director of the Center for Presidential History at Dallas’s Southern Methodist University, called the op-ed an unprecedented indictment of a U.S. president by a serving member of his own administration. That may be true — but there is precedence for anonymity on the opinion page. READ MORE