Who Are the NYT’s 1,104 ‘Senior’ Administration Officers?

We learned this week that the “senior civil servant” who vandalized President Trump in an office released in 2018 under the name “Anonymous” was actually quite a long way from the center of power as the secretary’s deputy chief of staff – Homeland Security. “I think a lot of people got the impression – I know it was me – that the article was written by someone in a much higher role,” said ABC’s Jonathan Karl complained to World News Tonight on Wednesday.

If the Times had given readers a more detailed description of the author of the Op-Ed, it would be unlikely that anyone would have bothered. It was the description of a “senior administrator” that sparked the imagination; “Senior” is the key word that indicates a genuine closeness to the president, like a cabinet secretary, a prominent adviser to the west wing, or even Vice President Pence. When they found out the author was Miles Taylor, someone most Americans didn’t know, it showed what it was: a cheap anti-Trump gimmick.

How often does the New York Times use these magical words to instill a sense of knowledge and authority on its otherwise anonymous sources, who may occupy a position few consider “high-ranking”? A Nexis search of Times articles reveals that the phrase “senior administrator” or “senior White House officer” was used 1,104 times between January 20, 2017 and October 29, 2020. The Times’ secret source is often cited at the highest level to expose private individuals or to undermine or criticize the President. Examples:

■ “President Trump threw himself into a bitter dispute in the Persian Gulf on Tuesday. He praised Saudi Arabia’s move to isolate its smaller neighbor Qatar and rattled its national security guards. His tweets, A senior White House official said this was not the result of political considerations, Confusion sown over America’s strategy … ”(June 6, 2017)

■ “His top employees weren’t nearly as enthusiastic [about tweets criticizing NFL players for kneeling during the National Anthem], said a senior administrator. There have been complaints from some officials that his tweets were causing another public relations headache at a time when the White House was in turmoil … ”(September 25, 2017)

■ “”According to a senior administrative officer, different potential [State Department] The hiring was out of consideration for such minor sins as retweeting some of Marco Rubio’s jokes about Trump. “The recruitment pool is very different from your normal recruitment pool,” says the officer. “The people the Senate would expect to approve have all been taken off the table.” (New York Times Magazine, October 17, 2017)

■ “I have said many times that I was not transferred to this job to change the way the President of the United States does business,” he said [White House chief of staff John Kelly] said in an interview with Fox News on Wednesday … “Let Trump be Trump,” a White House official said Thursday, summarizing Mr Kelly’s approach to managing the president’s conduct. One senior civil servant called it a “blind spot”.”(January 19, 2018)

■ “Mr. Trump has repeatedly withheld details of his talks with Putin, according to current and former American officials.A former senior administration official said A number of top management figures searched in the hours and days after the meeting for details of what Mr Trump and Mr Putin had discussed. But Mr. Trump waved it off and let officials rely only on a brief advertisement that Rex W. Tillerson, then Secretary of State, provided to the news media, according to the former official. “(January 13, 2019)

■ “A recent NBC report found White House security specialists refused [White House advisor and presidential son-in-law Jared] Kushner’s clearance twice but was overridden by her manager. A senior administration official confirmed this report to the New York Times.”(February 9, 2019)

■ “In the months before Kirstjen Nielsen was forced to resign, she tried to focus the White House on one of her highest priorities as Homeland Security Secretary: preparing for new and different forms of Russian interference in the 2020 elections. The Chief of Staff from President Trump told her not to bring it up in front of the President …According to a senior administrative officerMr. Mulvaney said it was not a great topic and should be kept below its level. (April 24, 2019)

■ “President Trump, trying to justify his allegation of a hurricane threat to Alabama, urged his staff to intervene with a federal scientific agency, leading to a highly unusual public reprimand from forecasters who contradicted him.A senior administrative officer who asked not to be identified to discuss internal matters, Mr. Trump told his staff that NOAA should “clarify” the position of the forecasters. NOAA, part of the Department of Commerce, then issued an unsigned statement that the National Meteorological Service office in Birmingham, Alabama, had wrongly disproved the president’s warning. “(September 12, 2019)

■ “Mr. Trump also pushed [Ukranian President Volodymyr] Zelensky explores a theory about the 2016 elections that says Ukraine hacked into the Democratic National Committee and then framed Moscow …[Trump] also brought up a DNC computer server which he suspected might be hidden in Ukraine. While serving Mr. Trump, Mr. Bossert repeatedly told him that his questions about the server were unfounded. according to a former senior administrative officer. ”(September 30, 2019)

■ “His [Trump’s] briefers, said a former senior administration official‘were stunned and upset that he had no real interest in the PDB. And it wasn’t just the PDB; It was almost everything produced by its NSC – Trump’s National Security Council. “He likes the military details but doesn’t read any informational materials. You put all that time and effort into these information papers and he literally tossed them aside. “(New York Times Magazine, August 8, 2020)

Now that we know that the Times has broadened the definition of a “senior administrative officer” to add an aura of authority to Miles Taylor’s criticism of the president, weren’t many of those other 1,104 “senior” officials really that “senior” all?

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