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New York Times had the right to publish “Anonymous,” but the author should have come forward

The New York Times faced both criticism and praise after publishing an anonymous Op-Ed titled, “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration,” written by an anonymous senior Trump official.

The essay is a short declaration concerning the questionable actions of President Donald Trump in private and public, while the writer maintains their party loyalty. The author also describes how many in the administration are concerned with the erratic and emotional decision-making behind closed doors.

The resounding question on the minds of Democrats, Republicans and private citizens alike is if the writer should have revealed their identity and made a public stand. Many wonder whether the anonymous Op-Ed was an appropriate move by the New York Times given that they have rarely allowed anonymous articles throughout their publication history.

The statement made by the piece would have been far more powerful if the senior official who authored it instead publicly announced their disapproval of Trump. While such a public declaration would have been ideal, the Op-Ed was well within the rights of the author and the New York Times. However, this has not stopped President Trump from imploring the Justice Department to conduct an investigation into who wrote the piece.

Currently, only the page editor, Op-Ed editor and publisher know the identity of the author. This may change if there is a successful plea to the Justice Department to investigate the author. This is unlikely, though, as the Op-Ed did not reveal any classified information.

Erin Echols is a junior health administrations and public policy double major who believes, if the occasion ever calls for it, “the New York Times should not comply with the investigation to preserve the integrity of their journalism and their writers.”

Freedom of the press is an invaluable aspect of the Bill of Rights, and the capacity for reporters to promise anonymity to their sources is necessary in order to maintain the ability for the press to do their job, reporting to the public.

Like many, Echols feels that, “it is [not] necessary for the writer to have to come out of the shadows. They have a right to express their opposition to a presidency they don’t agree with.”

While they certainly have this right, the author of the piece would have done better to make the brave decision and write their actual name on the document in a show of solidarity to the public and the issues plaguing this administration.

If the silent rebellion within the White House is as pervasive as the Op-Ed claims, the author could have made a greater impact by coming out publicly with their grievances. Such courage would be all the more reassuring, and the consequences may not be all that damaging. If it is true that many people in the Republican party are working against Trump, including his own advisers, there would still be people at the White House ready to combat negative decisions if the author gets removed from their position.

Despite the newspaper’s long-held reputation, the author’s anonymity only mars the article in doubt. In the age of constant accusations of “fake news,” this essay is a bit less impactful when the author is unwilling to come forward and address issues in more detail.