Last week, a highly critical Opinion Editorial was published in The New York Times. Written anonymously by a senior White House official, it heavily condemned Donald Trump and his leadership style. This is the first time an article critical of the President has been written by someone still working within the Trump administration. The Op-Ed details a resistance occurring between officials in the White House working to counteract Trump’s erratic and detrimental actions as President. On the surface, this appears to be a glimpse into the real truth of the chaos and dysfunction of the Trump administration. However, we do not know where this article comes from or the purpose that it is serving.
Previously, the best-selling book Fire and Fury also claimed to reveal the truth about the disorder and chaos that exists within the White House. Although stories such as this do suggest there could be truth to what is said in the Op-Ed, it also shows that this a narrative which the public are desperate to hear. Many people want to believe that Trump’s presidency is chaotic and dysfunctional. We need to think about the reasons why this piece was published. As there is no identifiable author to suffer any fallout from this article, who is to say how true this article really is? When we cannot see where information is coming from, we lose the ability to question its purpose and intentions
“Unless individuals are willing to speak out to show the public the truth…we will be unable to work fact from fiction.”
It is entirely possible that this Op-Ed could have been published to benefit the Republican Party. The article details Trump’s “impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective” leadership style. A style that damages the GOP’s image with moderate Republicans and independents. Therefore, it could be argued that the long-term success of the Republican Party in the future is put at risk by having such a reckless and impulsive figure as its current leader. Presenting an internal resistance against the chaos of Trump would help to fix this. It saves face for the Republican Party and restores belief in them as a credible political institution. The public will believe that the Party offers real political sensibility while Trump is isolated as a dangerous individual on the fringes.
We need to be aware that two stories are being spun here. After all, a controversial think piece in such a popular newspaper allows the Republican Party to reach out and manipulate the liberal voters who would normally escape their influence. It is extremely dangerous when members of the government are allowed to publish opinion pieces in anonymity. The hidden identity of the writer means that they can never be challenged and their claims never disputed. We cannot see in which way we are being manipulated. In the current era of post-truth politics, we need clarity more than ever.
Whistle-blowers should always be celebrated for speaking out when others do not. Unless individuals are willing to speak out to show the public the truth that exists behind the closed doors of the White House, we will be unable to work fact from fiction. However, we must also question where this information comes from and why it has been given to us. If we allow ourselves to just take information at face value, we could simply be believing the narrative someone else wants us to hear.