by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Simply put, I don’t trust you, and you haven’t given me any reason to change my mind. Because you won’t go on the record, we’re left with vague descriptions from reporters. You’re supposedly “familiar with” the matter. What does that mean, exactly? Some of you have allegedly spoken with the president. Some of you have spoken with those who’ve spoken with the president. How far down the game of “telephone” are you? Can we truly believe your claims?
I’ve used anonymous sources before, but in a context where I could verify core claims by reference to other, external facts. And I know that anonymous sourcing can be an indispensable aspect of journalism. But let’s be honest, this is getting out of hand.
We keep hearing that Trump is a unique threat, that he’s violating the “norms” of constitutional governance and driving our republic straight toward the cliff of autocracy and conflict. But if this is the case, why aren’t you speaking out on the record so that we can evaluate your credibility and motivations? Why is the “fear of reprisals” (to quote one New York Times story) driving you so far underground?
Are you worried that Trump might fire you? If you actually do know what you’re talking about and have truly valuable insight, you’d be unemployed just long enough to appear on Meet the Press and ink a book deal.
Given the gravity of the accusations, your continued anonymity tells me nothing good. The “career civil servants” among you may be little more than partisan bureaucrats, using hyperbole to fool gullible reporters. The aides and appointees may be mainly jockeying for advantage, hoping to humiliate opponents to gain their own seat at the table. Or, if you’re right, and this president truly is dangerous, your anonymity raises concerns about your courage. Men and women have died for this nation, and you’re not willing to risk your GS rating to save it from incompetence or authoritarianism?