‘Lodestar’ and ‘first principles’: Twitter’s hunt for the White House turncoat

07 September, 2018, 07:53 | Author: Rachel Mcdaniel
  • Trump fires back at Bob Woodward book with statements from James Mattis and John Kelly

President Donald Trump gave a lengthy response to yet another public indictment of his leadership on Wednesday, listing off his administration's achievements and guaranteeing he'll be re-elected in 2020. The excerpts said aides sometimes tried to limit what they saw as damaging behaviour by disregarding his instructions.

The coup of publishing a column by an anonymous Trump administration official bashing the boss could backfire on The New York Times if the author is unmasked and turns out to be a little-known person, or if the newspaper's own reporters solve the puzzle.

Calling the author an "anonymous coward" and a "gutless loser", Sanders tweeted the opinion desk's phone number, urging Trump supporters to ask about the identity of the writer, who criticized Trump's "amorality" and poor management skills.

Ms Nielsen, along with Mr Pence and director of national intelligence Dan Coats were among the favourites on Thursday among political gamblers taking an online stab at guessing the author.

"Our policy is as you say not to publish pieces anonymously", the Post's editorial page editor Fred Hiatt told CNN, adding that he has "no comment on the current situation".

"If a person is bold enough to accuse people of negative actions, they have a responsibility to publicly stand by their words and people have the right to be able to defend themselves", the statement continued.

The manifesto followed a bombshell book by Watergate reporter Bob Woodward, who portrayed Trump's White House as an out-of-control "crazytown".

With such a wide circle of potential suspicion, Trump's men and women felt they had no choice but to speak out.

Describing Trump as unprincipled and "amoral", the author wrote: "Meetings with him veer off topic and off the rails, he engages in repetitive rants, and his impulsiveness results in half-baked, ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions that have to be walked back".

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An unnamed senior Trump official has said members of the administration are working to frustrate parts of the president's agenda to protect the country from his "worst inclinations". "Clearly it would not be my decision alone, and I can not say definitively that we would have gone with it or we would not have gone with it".

White House aides have reportedly launched their own witch hunt for the senior official, with some resorting to contacting reporters to find out who knows what.

Internet sleuths had identified Pence as a suspect because the piece uses the term "lodestar", one of the vice president's favorite words.

#NYTimesOpEd was among top-trending hashtags on Twitter.

Still, officials conceded that the sentiment expressed in the op-ed wasn't all that different from what has already been said by some at the White House and administration to journalists and lawmakers.

Sanders tweeted that the media's "wild obsession" with the identity is "recklessly tarnishing" the reputation of thousands of "great Americans".

Isn't it a shame that someone can write an article or book, totally make up stories and form a picture of a person that is literally the exact opposite of the fact, and get away with it without retribution or cost. "It is laughable to think this could come from the secretary", spokesman Tony Sayegh said on Twitter. He said the author is "failing" and "probably here for all the wrong reasons".

In a parade of disavowals of the article, Pompeo said on a trip to India that he was not the author, while representatives for Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said they were not the authors either. "Don't worry, we will win!"

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