By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – Anonymity is a tricky thing. In the news business, it’s an often-necessary tool to ferret out information that would otherwise stay hidden. But it can also be a shield for the disgruntled to hide behind as they settle scores, sometimes unfairly.

President Trump knows both sides of that story. He used to use an assumed name to plant flattering items about himself in the New York newspapers, and benefitted during the campaign from anonymous information about his opponent. But from day one of his presidency he has also been the target of anonymous leaks and quotes, most recently in a New York Times op-ed from an unnamed administration official who claimed to be part of an inside resistance devoted to “thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office.”

Most serious news organizations have strict policies dictating that anonymous sources be carefully vetted and used only when absolutely necessary. In our newsroom, tips often come in from anonymous sources, but are then confirmed on the record through documents and other sources.

In this case, the times justified it’s decision by claiming the anonymous op-ed “adds significant value to the public’s understanding of what is going on in the Trump administration,” but I don’t see how it told us anything that hasn’t already been reported in books and conventional news stories.

The most important story here is that, in some key ways, this president is in over his head. But it seems unnecessary for America’s leading newspaper to bend the rules in the pursuit of that important truth.

Share your opinion with me via email at, or use Twitter, @kelleratlarge.

Jon Keller

Comments (2)
  1. Theodore Oule says:

    Oh, my, someone objected to a clear-headed analysis of what Jon and the press has to say.

    To my critic, or critics…Please read the Constitution so as to understand what the President of the United State has as powers that have been enumerated therein. Those powers have been confirmed by more than two centuries of litigation and decisions as to what the President can and cannot do either by constitutional authorization.

    How sad that they are unable to understand that which his been determined to be the laws of our land…

    And even worse, there appears to be the assumption that the laws can be obeyed or disobeyed on personal whim.

    And, please…Complain about this post, too.

  2. Theodore Oule says:

    Congratulations, Jon, and same for your team…

    Did you read the Constitution and see where the errors in your assumptions might lie?

    Those assumptions ARE errors, you know, and ones that mislead your viewing, listening, and reading public into false impressions as to what our Constitution really says about the powers of the Chief Executive…

    Aside from the very arcane rules of civil service protection that make it almost impossible to fire the incompetent and the subversive, EVERYONE in the Executive Branch serves at the pleasure of the President…The President can, however, reassign any such employee to the equivalent of bureaucratic Siberia without recourse by the transferred individual.

    This [oint was just recently confirmed by the Second Circuit Court of a Appeals when they opined that the structure of the Consumer Finance Protection Board was unconstitutional because it set the Director of that board out of the reach of presidential prerogative. As an employee of the Executive Branch, and more particularly one that requires the advice and consent of the Senate. that individual reports to and serves the President and his legally authorized policies under the statutes our nation.

    Employees of the Executive Branch of the United States of America have a duty to support, uphold, and defend the Constitution and the policies established by the only legitimate authority within the Executive Branch. They have two options, and only two…comply or resign. If they chose not to resign, they can and should be fired. (See: Sally Yates, James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Lisa Page, and Peter Strzok. See, also: Bruce Ohr and Mr. Anonymous.)

    How about an essay from you acknowledging your one-sided, erroneous viewpoint?

    I get the sense that we might be waiting quite some time for that acknowledgment to appear…

    How sad, but how typical.

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