- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 5, 2018

The New York Times‘ publication of an op-ed column by an anonymous White House official has set up another potential institutional battle — within the New York Times itself.

Jodi Kantor, an investigative reporter for the Times, quickly saw the news-value and ethical dilemmas Wednesday afternoon as the column, about how President Trump’s top aides try to save the country from his worst tendencies, dominated the Washington news.

“So basically: Times reporters now must try to unearth the identity of an author that our colleagues in Opinion have sworn to protect with anonymity?” she wrote on Twitter. “Or is the entire newspaper bound by the promise of anonymity? I don’t think so, but this is fascinating. Not sure if there’s precedent.”

She somewhat backed off, explaining that she didn’t want the original tweet misinterpreted.

“This was just the sound of my head exploding at such a dramatic, unprecedented situation,” wrote Ms. Kantor, one of the two lead reporters in the Times’ bombshell Harvey Weinstein stories.

But she wasn’t alone in noting the problem that the news and op-ed divisions of the Times are now working at cross-purposes, since the identity of this mole or quasi-Resistance figure is obviously of significant news value.

“Heck of an ethics question,” pondered Byron Tau, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal.

“The Times, as an institution, has granted someone anonymity. Are its reporters bound by that, even though it was granted by the opinion section? Seems to me that it would at least raise eyebrows if the news section outed another section’s source,” he wrote.

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