Washington Examiner: The New York Times wants anonymity for the powerful, but no privacy for you
By Bradley A. Smith
The president’s anger at a disloyal staffer who is vowing to frustrate his policies is understandable, and if his identity is learned, firing is an appropriate response. But the New York Times piece is not “treason,” it is not a national security issue to find this person, and the president should not be haranguing the New York Times about disclosing this author or others. It’s that pesky First Amendment thing…
No one thinks for a moment that the New York Times is going to “turn over” its anonymous diarist “to government.” But the Times is protecting its author because his or her “job would be jeopardized by its disclosure.” And the Times thought it important to publish these anonymous thoughts because it “believe[s] publishing this essay anonymously is the only way to deliver an important perspective to our readers.”
Yet the New York Times has been a big supporter of ever more disclosure of the identities of persons who finance public debate. It has supported the so-closed “DISCLOSE Act” and regularly rails against “dark money.”
Does it not occur to the Times that perhaps its anonymous writer ought also be able to contribute to candidates or organizations critical of President Trump without “jeopardizing” the anonymous writer’s job? How about other people in similar situations? What about a Trump critic who happens to work for the Trump Organization? What about a corporate officer of a company with long-standing government contracts, or one that hopes to bid fairly in the future?
Many people who will never be granted a platform as large as a New York Times op-ed face possible retaliation for their views, whether from government officials, employers, or the online mob. Yet the Times supports a crackdown on the decidedly less influential means of speaking that are available to them – contributions to like-minded candidates and causes.