The Times' Nameless Author: A Man for No Seasons
The play “A Man for All Seasons” depicts the heroic virtue of Sir Thomas More, the lord high chancellor who, despite his loyalty to the British crown, gave his life rather than violate his conscience regarding King Henry VIII’s usurpation of ecclesiastical authority. The Academy Award-winning 1966 film version of the play and a later adaptation with Charlton Heston as More reinforced for generations the sacrifices of a singularly brave statesman.
The “Anonymous” author of the sketchy New York Times op-ed attacking President Trump from within the White House represents the polar antithesis of Thomas More. In fact, he (or she) could rightly be called “A Man for No Seasons.”
Why? Chiefly because this coward hides behind the veil of secrecy. Assuming the Times is telling the truth – a big assumption – when it states this person indeed holds a senior position of public trust in the Trump administration and believes this president actually endangers our republic, then the author is honor-bound to follow the esteemed tradition of Thomas More. He should immediately resign and publicly explicate his reasons. Instead, he acts as a sniveling sneak who should never be given the once-august platform of the New York Times editorial pages.
Moreover, the nebulous objections relayed by Anonymous reveal not some noble protector of our national ideals, but rather an establishmentarian who simply disagrees with the most basic tenets of our 2016 movement. He writes, for example, that Trump “shows little affinity for ideals long-espoused by conservatives.” Well, the track record of the last 20 months sure fooled me, as this president has achieved historic tax cuts, immense regulatory relief, and the nomination and confirmation of dozens of conservative judges/justices. Apparently, Trump has fooled a lot of others as well, considering he regularly enjoys approval ratings above 90 percent of Republicans in polling.
But the Times editorial board need not quibble with such basic facts, nor even pretend to believe in the kind of fearless storytelling that once defined its dominance. Instead, the vague musings of a nameless and disgruntled insider will work just fine, provided that the target is Donald J. Trump. What happened to honest liberal journalists, the Nat Hentoffs of days gone by, who believed in open inquiry, intellectual rigor, and philosophical tolerance?
Instead, the mainstream media of today have devolved into an amalgam of “Resistance” advocates masquerading as journalists, pursuing an anti-Trump agenda at every turn, no matter the relevance or accuracy. In this environment, it was par for the course that the New Yorker Festival 2018 rescinded its invitation to onetime Trump adviser Steve Bannon. The magazine caved to the outraged mob when other invited guests such as Hollywood denizens Judd Apatow and Jim Carrey said that if Bannon was coming, they were pulling out. That kind of intolerance has come to be expected from entertainment industry types. But New Yorker writers took to Twitter to gin up pressure on magazine editor David Remnick to cancel the Bannon invitation. Bannon is hardly some minor figure; he helped mastermind the most historic upset campaign in U.S. presidential election history. But in the minds of today’s ruling journalistic class that’s precisely why Bannon should be shunned and censored – the desires of the 63 million Americans who voted for Trump be damned.
Also this week, NBC “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd penned a pity letter in The Atlantic, bemoaning the success of Fox News and pledging to “start fighting back.” In his article, he resorts to the tired trope that conservatives are motivated by racism, comparing the present antipathy for the media to “the segregated South in the 1950s and ’60s.” Todd seems to overlook some facts inconvenient to his smears: that segregation was almost exclusively a policy of the Democratic Party and Trump’s rising popularity among voters of color.
On the subject of polls, mainstream media figures love to point out the president’s high disapproval numbers. Perhaps they should shine that same spotlight on themselves: Public distrust of most media remains remarkably high and has increased significantly in recent years, with Gallup reporting that 62 percent of people believe the news they consume is biased.
Why are the media held in such low regard? Probably because Americans intelligently see the biased and dishonest tactics increasingly disguised as journalism. This week, the New York Times, the New Yorker, and NBC News acted like house organs of the Democratic Party rather than like objective news organizations. It’s time for some honest Thomas More types to rise up within the mainstream media and demand a return to the standards and principles worthy of a free press in a free society.