Reactions poured in across social media after Miles Taylor, former chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security, revealed himself as the anonymous “senior” official who identified himself as part of the resistance inside the Trump administration in a 2018 op-ed published in the New York Times.
“Donald Trump is a man without character. It’s why I wrote ‘A Warning’…and it’s why me & my colleagues have spoken out against him (in our own names) for months,” Taylor announced on Wednesday.
“It’s time for everyone to step out of the shadows,” he added, providing a link to his full statement:
Donald Trump is a man without character. It’s why I wrote “A Warning”…and it’s why me & my colleagues have spoken out against him (in our own names) for months. It’s time for everyone to step out of the shadows. My statement: https://t.co/yuhTgZ4bkq
— Miles Taylor (@MilesTaylorUSA) October 28, 2020
His admission triggered a wave of mockery from high profile figures across social media, many of whom were disenchanted by the revelation and, perhaps more so, by the Times’ decision to describe Taylor as a “senior” official in a prelude to the op-ed.
“You have got to be kidding me. Miles Taylor? That’s who the New York Times granted an anonymous editorial article? I’ve seen more exciting reveals in Scooby-Doo episodes,” White House chief of staff Mark Meadows remarked, calling the revelation a “monumental embarrassment”:
You have got to be kidding me. Miles Taylor? That’s who the New York Times granted an anonymous editorial article? I’ve seen more exciting reveals in Scooby-Doo episodes.
What a monumental embarrassment.
— Mark Meadows (@MarkMeadows) October 28, 2020
“I also didn’t realize the definition of ‘senior administration official’ could be *this* expansive. Wasn’t even an agency chief of staff at the time the op-ed ran,” Axios’ Johnathan Swan observed:
I also didn’t realize the definition of “senior administration official” could be *this* expansive. Wasn’t even an agency chief of staff at the time the op-ed ran.
— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) October 28, 2020
Susan Hennessey, national security and legal analyst for CNN, held a similar view.
“Leaving aside how one feels about Taylor’s actions, I’m not sure that the NY Times decision to grant a DHS chief of staff anonymity for that op-ed and to describe him as a ‘senior administration official’ holds up especially well,” she said, concluding that the high expectations suggest the Times “failed to provide its readership sufficient context.”
“Actually, was Taylor even Chief of Staff yet when he wrote the piece?” she followed:
Actually, was Taylor even Chief of Staff yet when he wrote the piece? https://t.co/5Oh12RTPBT
— Susan Hennessey (@Susan_Hennessey) October 28, 2020
Karen Tumulty, a columnist for the Washington Post, said that, based on the Times’ original description, she expected the official to be “someone at cabinet level, at least.” National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) senior advisor Matt Whitlock noted that Taylor’s name was absent from the DHS’s senior leadership page at the time the Times published the op-ed:
The revelation of the identity of “Anonymous” calls into question whether the NYT had ample grounds to allow him to write without identifying him. I figured it had to be someone at cabinet level, at least.
— Karen Tumulty (@ktumulty) October 28, 2020
The NYT answered a bunch of written questions about why they decided to publish the op-ed, and defended the use of "senior administration official."
— Matt Whitlock (@mattdizwhitlock) October 28, 2020
Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO) added that the Times’ decision to describe Taylor as a “senior” administration official “shows we have every right to question their editorial standards and the credibility of other anonymous ‘sources'”:
The New York Times describing Miles Taylor as a “Senior Administration Official” shows we have every right to question their editorial standards and the credibility of other anonymous “sources.”
— Rep. Jason Smith (@RepJasonSmith) October 28, 2020
Others expressed similar views:
The public will at least get to find out what “a senior administration official” on background looks like! https://t.co/dj7uGH7GOs
— Peter Hamby (@PeterHamby) October 28, 2020
Don’t let @nytimes off the hook. They purposefully misled the country into thinking a notable senior Trump admin official was plotting against him when in fact it was an unknown Obama donor, Miles Taylor, from DHS. They knew what they were doing and it’s not journalism.
— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) October 28, 2020
Miles Taylor is living Dwight Schrute's personal dream: he got the NY Times to describe him as a "senior administration official" rather than "assistant to the regional manager," which is more or less what he was as a mid-level functionary with zero policymaking power.
— Jeff B., who on earth is this guy?? (@EsotericCD) October 28, 2020
And the New York Times enabled it by granting a nobody anonymity for no reason and Miles Taylor let a good person get unfairly hammered. https://t.co/FAHALC4UEw
— JERRY DUNLEAVY (@JerryDunleavy) October 28, 2020
The tattered reputation of the New York Times diminishes even further with this "Anonymous" revelation. Senior official? Please.
— Steve Cortes (@CortesSteve) October 28, 2020
How it began: “we wouldn’t say it’s a senior administration official unless we meant it, think: cabinet official or ambassador”
How it ended: “it’s a child bureaucrat you’ve never heard of at some agency”
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) October 28, 2020
“This is the least impressive, lamest political ‘reveal’ of all time,” Hogan Gidley, Trump 2020 national press secretary said in a statement. “I worked with DHS officials while I was in the White House, and even I had to research who Miles Taylor was.”
Gidley went on to describe Taylor as “just another standard-issue arrogant, Washington, DC swamp bro who loved President Trump until he figured out he could try to make money by attacking him”:
.@JHoganGidley: The least impressive, lamest political ‘reveal’ of all time… The very fact that the Beltway media hyped up ‘Anonymous’ just emphasizes how derelict they are when they totally ignore the readily visible Biden pay-to-play scandal unfolding before their eyes. pic.twitter.com/0Et9gdSUyy
— Tim Murtaugh (@TimMurtaugh) October 28, 2020
Taylor, a CNN contributor, lied during an appearance on the network in August, denying that he was “anonymous.”
“This is everything people hate about Washington — two-faced liars who push their own agendas at the expense of the People. This is the epitome of the swamp!” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany remarked:
PROOF: Miles Taylor, who now admits to being “Anonymous,” once told us he was NOT Anonymous. He LIED!
This is everything people hate about Washington — two-faced liars who push their own agendas at the expense of the People. This is the epitome of the swamp! ⬇️ https://t.co/cNz1Fgpz5g
— Kayleigh McEnany (@PressSec) October 28, 2020
The Times defended its decision to run the anonymous op-ed at the time of its publication.
“We believe publishing this essay anonymously is the only way to deliver an important perspective to our readers,” the paper asserted at the time.