COLLEGE PARK (9/7/18) — The New York Times should brace for criticism if the anonymous author of a recently published op/ed is revealed and found wanting.
The Times published an opinion piece Wednesday in which the writer, who was granted anonymity, said a group of administration officials were secretly working to thwart parts of President Donald Trump’s agenda. An editor’s note described the author as a “senior official in the Trump administration.”
Reporters at the Times and elsewhere are scrambling to uncover the author’s identity. Some are asking what constitutes a “senior official.”
Tom Bettag, Eleanor Merrill Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism, told the Associated Press that if the author is not among the top 20 officials in the Trump administration, “the Times just gets creamed.”
Bettag, a veteran and award-winning television news producer, said the Times‘ description of the author “gets held against them in the biggest possible way” if the writer is deemed a more junior member of the administration.
But he also expressed confidence in the news organization’s judgment.
“I have enough respect for the Times to believe that they wouldn’t hold themselves up to that,” Bettag told the AP.
Bettag, best known as the executive producer for ABC News’ “Nightline with Ted Koppel,” is the winner of 30 Emmy awards, two Peabody awards, six DuPont silver batons and the Fred Friendly First Amendment Award.