Two years after the New York Times published an op-ed from what they described as an anonymous, principled conservative “senior administration official,” it turned out to have been written by a low-level bureaucrat who later worked for tech giant Google and gave money to far-left Democrats.
Miles Taylor revealed he was the author of the highly hyped op-ed headlined “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration.” He claimed to secretly work to thwart Trump’s policy goals as the elected president of the United States.
While constitutional scholars worried about implications of such unaccountable thwarting of the will of the people, most media focused instead on identifying who “Anonymous” was. The New York Times assured readers that when it said “senior administration official,” it meant someone “in the upper echelon of an administration.”
Not A Senior Administration Official
People took seriously the New York Times’ claim that the anonymous writer was in the upper echelon of an administration. In “13 people who might be the author of The New York Times op-ed,” CNN followed the New York Times’ lead by offering the names of actual senior administration officials, such as Don McGahn, Dan Coats, Kellyanne Conway, Kirstjen Nielsen, John Kelly, Jeff Sessions, James Mattis, Nikki Haley, Jared Kushner, and Ivanka Trump. Chris Cillizza also suggested it might be Fiona Hill or Melania Trump.
He also wrote of the Times, “They aren’t publishing an anonymous op-ed from just anyone in the Trump administration. They especially aren’t publishing one that alleges a near-coup … If some midlevel bureaucrat in the Trump administration comes to the Times — or has an intermediary reach out to the Times — asking to write a piece like this one without their name attached to it, the answer would be an immediate ‘no.'” He added:
Given all of that, it’s telling that the Times was willing to extend the cloak of anonymity to this author — especially, again, because of the stakes and the target. This is not a decision made lightly. That the decision was made to publish it should tell you that this isn’t some disgruntled mid-to-upper manager buried in the bureaucracy. This is a genuine high-ranking official. A name most people who follow politics — and maybe some who don’t — would recognize. The Times simply wouldn’t do what it did for anything short of a major figure in Trump world.
In fact, they were willing to do it for a very low-level political appointee. Taylor has been billed as “chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security,” but he didn’t have even that position that nobody knew existed when he wrote the op-ed and was described as a senior administration official.
Even if you take a very generous reading of the term “senior administration official,” a read so generous that you would include more than five dozen bureaucrats at the Department of Homeland Security below its secretary, that would have not included Taylor.
DHS actually listed 64 individuals it considered senior at the department on the day the op-ed was published. Taylor was not one of them. He was described as a policy advisor, not anything close to a senior administration official.
Taylor went on to write a book as Anonymous, and to “come out” as a Trump-hating Joe Biden supporter this past summer, with the help of CNN and the Washington Post. CNN even hired Taylor as a contributor, and still yesterday’s news landed with a dud.
While Taylor attempted to position himself as a principled conservative, he left the administration to work for Google and his former boss at DHS said that if Taylor ever opposed anything about the Trump administration, it was news to his colleagues.
“Having worked with Mr. Taylor on the President’s immigration and counter-terrorism policy agenda, I can attest that [Miles Taylor] never vocalized disagreement with the president’s policies — and in fact expressed strong support,” Acting Secretary Chad Wolf said in a statement.
That’s a problem for Taylor, since BuzzFeed recently noted that he was the chief of staff who sold the administration’s “child separation policy” — and never publicly or privately disagreed with it, as Wolf noted.
Everything Wrong With Anonymous Sources
So Taylor was neither a senior administration official nor a principled conservative. The only thing that is really known about him is that he is capable and willing of lying, as he did on air when asked by Anderson Cooper if he was “anonymous.”
If The New York Times was willing to lie about how high-level its anonymous source was for their very high-profile September 2018 information operation, imagine the lies they’re willing to tell about all the other anonymous sources they use. If the New York Times is willing to deceive readers about how high this author’s perch was, imagine how much other papers and media outlets are willing to lie in support of their anti-Trump narratives.
Every time you read in an outlandish Big Media narrative that an anonymous source is “senior,” interpret it as “junior.” And if the reporters don’t even bother with that level of characterization, assume it’s someone they met on the street.
Anonymous sources have occasionally been necessary for journalists. Their overuse, mischaracterization, and lack of accountability in the age of Trump journalism is clearly out of control.