On Wednesday, The New York Times published a scathing op-ed trashing President Trump written by an anonymous senior White House official (or so the paper claims). The author pompously painted them self as part of a secret, superhero-like team in the White House keeping the wildly unstable President from harming us all. Of course, the liberal media went absolutely bonkers for it. During the evening newscasts, ABC, CBS, and NBC spent almost 15 minutes combined pushing the writer’s claims.
In all, the three networks spent 14 minutes and 44 seconds on the anonymous editorial. ABC’s World News Tonight spent the most time at five minutes and 48 seconds. CBS Evening News clocked in at four minutes and 44 seconds. NBC Nightly News brought up the rear (but still close behind) with four minutes and 12 seconds.
The reason ABC’s one segment lasted the longest was due to the fact that chief White House correspondent Jon Karl seemed to be reading the entire essay to viewers. If it was an incendiary claim, he seemed to make sure to repeat it. In the transcript below is a sample of Karl’s long-winded read-a-long.
“The unnamed official offers a devastating portrayal of Trump the president,” he noted before reading:
“The President's leadership style is impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective. Senior officials will privately admit their daily disbelief at the commander in chief's comments and actions. 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."
Meanwhile, on NBC, they did their best to crank up the drama and the fear. “President Trump is confronted tonight with what may be the most daunting opposition he's faced yet. This time it's coming from within his own ranks,” anchor Lester Holt proclaimed as the program began.
“An extraordinary alarm sounded from the inside out, jaw-dropping charges against the President by someone who says they work for him. An anonymous source describing a secret cluster of top aides, quote, ‘working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations,’” added NBC White House correspondent Hallie Jackson.
Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd joined Holt in trying to stoke the public’s fear of the President. After being asked by Holt, “should all Americans be shaken,” Todd vehemently agreed. “Look, I think so. Because I mean, the portrait that's being painted is a President that is not fit to run the country. That's what this senior administration official is saying,” Todd declared.
While CBS dedicated the second longest amount of airtime to the anonymous op-ed, they were the only network to pump the brakes. Chief White House correspondent Major Garrett pointed out one of the problems when it came to the identity of the author. “[T]he elastic definition here in Washington of who qualifies as a senior administration official. Hundreds upon hundreds might fit that bill,” he noted.
And in their second segment on the op-ed, CBS correspondent Jericka Duncan highlighted opposition to the anonymous label from inside The Times. “Investigative reporter Jodi Kantor, maybe best known for her work on Harvey Weinstein, said, ‘So basically, Times reporters now must try to unearth the identity of an author that our colleagues in Opinion have sworn to protect with anonymity,’” she reported.
Duncan also noted the reaction from former Times public editor (and current Washington Post columnist) Margaret Sullivan who jokingly tweeted: “It's a good day not to be the public editor of The New York Times."
The transcripts are below, click "expand" to read:
ABC's World News Tonight
September 5, 2018
6:32 p.m. Eastern
DAVID MUIR: Good evening and it's great to have you with us here on a very busy Wednesday night. And we begin with that unprecedented move, something we’ve never seen before. A letter published late today by The New York Times written by someone inside the Trump administration, anonymous senior official describing what it's like inside the White House, inside this administration. Saying, "I work for the president, but like-minded colleagues and I have vowed to thwart part of the President's agenda and his worst inclinations.” The senior official writing in that letter, “we know what is happening,” adding, quote, “there is a quiet resistance within the administration to put country first.” Tonight, the President tweeting just moments ago a one-word question: “Treason?” And it all comes 24 hours after Bob Woodward's bombshell book.
JON KARL: The unnamed official offers a devastating portrayal of Trump the president. "The President's leadership style is impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective. Senior officials will privately admit their daily disbelief at the commander in chief's comments and actions. 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."
The writer says the President has betrayed values long held by Republicans, particularly in his approach to foreign policy. "President Trump shows a preference for autocrats and dictators, such as Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un, and displays little genuine appreciation for the ties that bind us to allied, like-minded nations."
The official says there are two forces in the Trump presidency, the president himself and the aides working quietly to block his actions. "This isn't the work of the so-called deep state," he writes. "It's the work of the steady state.”
“The bigger concern is not what Mr. Trump has done to the presidency, but rather, what we as a nation have allowed him to do to us. We have sunk low with him and allowed our discourse to be stripped of civility." The op-ed contends top administration officials are trying to save the country from the president they serve.
KARL: Well, The Times says this official wanted to remain anonymous and they believed publishing the essay anonymously was, quote, “the only way to deliver an important perspective to our audience.” But as you pointed out, the President is suggesting this is treason and the White House is saying whoever this official is should resign immediately.
CBS Evening News
September 5, 2018
6:34 p.m. Eastern
JEFF GLOR: Lots of drama here, Major. Now everyone, of course, wonders who wrote this op-ed.
MAJOR GARRETT: We don't know, and it is, for the moment, Washington's central obsession, lots of speculation around it. One problem, Jeff, the elastic definition here in Washington of who qualifies as a senior administration official. Hundreds upon hundreds might fit that bill. As for the President, he just tweeted, all caps, "Treason?” Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the author is a selfish coward who should resign.
GLOR: Okay, so the fallout continues. Major Garrett at the White House. The Times is also dealing with sharp reaction to the article from inside and outside the newspaper. Jericka Duncan is at New York Times headquarters here in Manhattan. Jericka.
JERIKA DUNCAN: Yeah, that's right. We are outside of the headquarters here in Manhattan, Jeff, where people on the inside are reacting to The New York Times decision to publish this anonymous piece, and it's sparking immediate reaction within the newsroom.
Take a look at this: Investigative reporter Jodi Kantor, maybe best known for her work on Harvey Weinstein, said, "So basically, Times reporters now must try to unearth the identity of an author that our colleagues in Opinion have sworn to protect with anonymity." Then she went on and later tweeted that she was simply reacting to a dramatic and unprecedented situation.
The internal feud within the paper again has compelled former Times public editor Margaret Sullivan to tweet: "It's a good day not to be the public editor of The New York Times." Sullivan was asked on Twitter by a colleague, "What would you say?" She simply replied, "I would carefully talk to the parties and then come to a crushingly tough-but-fair conclusion. Silly." We did reach out to The New York Times for comment on this and have not heard a response yet.
GLOR: Great tweet from Margaret Sullivan earlier.
NBC Nightly News
September 5, 2018
7:01 p.m. Eastern
LESTER HOLT: Good evening, everyone. President Trump is confronted tonight with what may be the most daunting opposition he's faced yet. This time it's coming from within his own ranks. The New York Times out this evening with a stunning and unsettling op-ed essay. It's an anonymous piece the paper says was written by someone it describes as a senior Trump administration official. The author claiming to be part of a wider resistance within the administration. “Trump appointees,” the writer says, committed to, quote, “thwarting Mr. Trump's more misguided impulses until he is out of office.” Just a short time ago the President reacting, calling the writer gutless. With more on the essay, here is NBC's Hallie Jackson.
[Cuts to video]
HALLIE JACKSON: An extraordinary alarm sounded from the inside out, jaw-dropping charges against the President by someone who says they work for him. An anonymous source describing a secret cluster of top aides, quote, “working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.”
JACKSON: At one point the official describes “early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment” to remove the president “but no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis.” Americans should know that there are adults in the room,” the person writes. “We fully recognize what is happening and we are trying to do what is right even when Donald Trump won't.”
HOLT: I want to bring in our political director, the moderator of Meet the Press Chuck Todd. Chuck, for folks watching at home, no matter where you stand on the President or his policies, should all Americans be shaken by this?
CHUCK TODD: And let me emphasize a couple things here. I think it matters how senior this person is. I think it matters that they need to answer why they chose to do it now. Did something happen recently that makes them think they need to do this now? Is this timed on purpose with the Woodward book in order to say: “Hey, I'm just here to confirm everything you're hearing about the Woodward book.”
I think a lot of things need to be known about the person because yes, Lester, I think we should be rattled that some unelected folks feel as if they have to run the country. If that's what’s happening, I think Congress at a minimum needs to get some answers as to why that’s happening.