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Media

Why Did CNN Publish Anonymous’s Claims without Verification?

(Chris Aluka Berry/Reuters)

I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration,” was the dramatic September 2018 headline of a The New York Times oped penned by a “senior official in the Trump administration” whose anonymity had to be protected to shield them from reprisals. The intimation, of course, was that we were dealing some truly “senior” figure who could no longer stay silent under Trumpian fascism.

The column sparked the usual feverish coverage. And even though everything Anonymous alleged was completely unverified, even his identity, every major media outlet ran with pieces relaying his claims. Anonymous’s assertion was that a cabal of senior staffers had secretly schemed to nullify the agenda of the duly elected president of the United States simply because they disagreed with his policies. It was a clumsy attempt at sabotage.

In August of 2020, long after he had left the administration, endorsed Joe Biden, joined Never Trump organizations, and cut ads against the president, former DHS official Miles Taylor, now one of CNN’s ideologically indistinguishable contributors, was asked by host Anderson Cooper if he was Anonymous. “I wear a mask for two things, Anderson: Halloween and pandemics. So, no,” he replied.

Today, Taylor says he’s decided to come “out of the shadows” as Anonymous. (If you’re just repeating the same things under your own name are you really in the shadows?)

Host Jake Tapper says CNN “did not know this until today.” Then why did CNN, the same network that contends it can’t report on New York Post’s corroborated Hunter Biden emails — “too disgusting’ to repeat,” Tapper says — publish uncorroborated accusations by someone’s whose identity they didn’t even know? What if he was lying?

In November 2019, CNN reported:

Senior White House officials were certain Vice President Mike Pence would back an effort to have President Donald Trump removed from office over concerns about his mental state, the “Anonymous” administration official plans to claim in their forthcoming book, a source close to the book process confirms to CNN’s Jake Tapper.

See how that works. Tapper reported on the allegations, not the substance or the person making them. Or did  CNN find two sources that verified that White House officials were “certain” that Mike Pence would back an effort to have Trump removed from office “over concerns about his mental state?” Years ago such a major accusation would never have run without any corroboration, much less from an anonymous source. Though one wonders how many times Taylor and Anonymous were used by reporters as separate independent sources.

Now, I doubt Donald Trump could pick Taylor out of a lineup. But it is worth mentioning that Taylor’s book came out the same month he left his position within the administration. The idea that he was risking something when it was released, necessitating anonymity, is false. So is the idea, it seems, that he ever resisted Trump immigration policies in the White House. It was just a hackish way to create publicity and push resistance stories. Which media organizations eagerly allowed him to do.

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