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article imageOp-Ed: Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Op-Ed, and why?

By Paul Wallis     Sep 8, 2018 in Politics
Washington - The New York Times op-ed supposedly written by a White House insider has almost eclipsed Trump himself. The insider states that the administration is “working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations”.
Trump isn’t pleased. He’s now calling for the Attorney General to investigate the op-ed. On what legal basis will be interesting: the NYT has the right to withhold the names of authors for just about any reason. Trump has cited national security as a possible reason for action, but right now it’s him that’s looking insecure.
(For those who haven’t actually read the NYT piece you can read the whole story here. )
There’s another point. An op-ed, by definition, is an opinion piece. There is no law, even in America, against having an opinion. News media, even News Corp, publish opinions regularly. It’s not illegal, and never will be.
The question of defamation isn’t clear, either. Alleging someone has committed a crime is defamatory. Saying that in your opinion someone is stupid isn’t. Implying that someone is incompetent might be defamatory, but if it’s a judgment call, it’s 50-50 at best whether it is.
The massive reaction to the op-ed by the administration, however, is now taking on a life of its own. A few more questions are being raised beyond whether it really was written by an insider and what the security implications might be.
For example:
***Why would someone actually in the administration feel obliged to write this sort of op-ed?
***If there’s no truth in it, what’s the fuss?
***Why would you investigate something you claim is a beat-up, fake, etc.?
***What if it is true? What if the administration really does work the way the op-ed says it does?
***The op-ed specifically mentions that like-minded administrators working against the Trump agenda have “vowed” to do what they can to preserve democratic institutions while thwarting Trump. What, exactly the hell, does that mean? How much preservation, and how much thwarting, are required?
***Is the op-ed picture of Trump’s behaviour, which is much less than flattering, accurate? Many other sources have also alleged Trump has behavioural issues, notably Michael Wolff and now Bob Woodward in a new book called Fear. The op-ed has definitely fanned those flames.
What it looks like is that someone does feel this way, has written an op-ed, and has apparently hit the jackpot in terms of striking the raw nerves of this administration. If that’s all it takes to throw the entire Trump administration off its job of governance, maybe there really is a problem.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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