The Anonymous Patriot

Illustration by Steck Von

Caitlin Barbieri
Opinions Editor

The anonymous op-ed published in The New York Times last week is an example of the press utilizing our freedom of speech for its intended purpose: empowerment.

Media outlets across the country have debated the decision by the Times’ opinion desk to run the editorial anonymously. The publication has sparked a discussion in the journalism community about the ethics of granting anonymity.

As the opinions editor of The Commonwealth Times, I would have made the same decision as James Dao — who holds the same position at the New York Times — to grant anonymity.

Granting anonymity is not a disregard for credentials or validity. Publishing the op-ed was a judgment call made in the best interests of the American people. The press’ job is to educate the public, and the editorial section is meant to provide a platform for further education through opinionated analysis.          

It is rare for The New York Times to grant anonymity, so the fact that it did so reflects the publication’s belief in the significance of the content.

Critics of the article assert it threatens our democracy because it undermines the executive branch by openly revealing how members of the government are working to contain President Trump. A Republican publicly expressing a lack of confidence in a president of his/her own party shows extreme tension within the party and could continue to fuel the public’s distrust of the government.

However, this op-ed also shows government officials are aware of the problems that surround the Trump administration — they will not blindly follow a leader they do not trust. The author of this article puts the U.S. first by speaking out against a president she/he does not believe is qualified. She/he is not questioning the values or actions of the Republican Party, but the values and actions of President Trump.

Illustration by Steck Von

The language and tone of the article appreciates the importance of the presidential role and illustrates a dedication to the country’s improvement.

Most of the information in the article is not new, yet remains significant because it came from inside the administration. It was a message to the American people that despite a problematic president, there exist individuals in the executive branch dedicated to our democracy.  

The author used this op-ed as a platform to communicate surreptitiously to the American people. By remaining anonymous, she/he can continue to work to improve our country while protecting herself/himself. This was a message of hope, not a sign of a breakdown — and the Times had an obligation to our country to publish it.    

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