By all accounts, The New York Times (NYT) is a wonderful newspaper – excellent journalists and usually staunch supporters of verifying truth over perception and innuendo. I’ve loved reading the NY Times and I’ve been a subscriber for years – until yesterday.
By my perception, the NYT has had a lousy month. September 5th, NYT editorial staff published an anonymous editorial, I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration. That publication had both critics and supporters. For supporters, the NYT displayed a sense of courage often undertaken in articulating one person’s perception of day-to-day events. Politico.com argued that by not forcing the author to identify her, or himself, the NYT has made that process (being anonymous) more difficult. For me, I saw nothing in the writer’s op-ed extraordinary enough that justifies access to the NYTs’ powerful platform.
In a story destined to alter history, NYT reporters Adam Goldman and Michael Schmidt delivered a powerful headline September 22nd: “Rosenstein Suggested He Secretly Record Trump and Discussed 25th Amendment.” The story focuses on Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, the man responsible for overseeing the investigation into potential Russian collusion. For that reason, he is of tremendous interest to Trump. Getting rid of Rosenstein would be supremely helpful to Trump as he could nominate Rosenstein’s replacement and shut down the Russia investigation.
It’s difficult, at this stage, to assess the story and what really happened. The primary source for the NYT appears to be a series of memos written by McCabe. Additionally, the NYT’s sources were sources who briefed on Rosenstein’s comments and seen memos prepared by someone else. In other words, the NYT are all second-hand – individuals not present during actual events.
In fact, the only direct human quotes are from Rosenstein’s denials.
New York Times reporters are convinced Rosenstein was serious about using wire taps and vetting the 25th amendment. How do they know? According to CNN’s interview, Rosenstein discussed it twice. As in 2 times.
So, Rosenstein stated the ‘25th Amendment‘ twice? Any action to initiate the thought? “No.” Any evidence of secret meetings with cabinet officials that propelled invoking the 25th Amendment? “No.” Any secret memo’s, confirmations or planning by anyone, an FBI agent, the postmaster, Facebook post, Twitter post saying “Meet me at the secret galley,” or even a mic’d up squirrel? “No.” The entire article’s basis is founded upon someone’s inference of another person’s interpretation of Rosenstein’s comments.
The writers should have cited a source for every claim but don’t. Thus, readers have no way of knowing whether the facts are accurate. All of this was irresponsibly shaped and void of important framework.
Key takeaways. First, I have no clue if Mueller’s investigation will bring any meaningful charges against Trump’s inner circle. But it should be allowed to finish. Second, if you’re going to call out the deputy attorney general for instigating a potential coup d’é·tat, better have something more than second-hand sources. Third, if I published something like this, my employer would fire me.
All the NYT did was become the story.