The self-outing of Miles Taylor as the writer of The New York Times anonymous op-ed back in September of 2018 provides a rare glimpse into how the mainstream media echo chamber operates. It’s extremely rare for a major publication to allow someone to bash the administration without putting their name on it, but that’s exactly what Miles Taylor was allowed to do.
But the actual op-ed was just the root of the story. After that, it was up to the rest of our incompetent jabbering media heads to speculate on who the writer was. The New York Times billed him as a “Senior administration official” which told CNN analyst Chris Cillizza that it was someone of monumental importance.
Cillizza wrote that the fact that a super reputable paper like The New York Times was willing to extend anonymity to Taylor meant that “this isn’t some disgruntled mid-to-upper manager buried in the bureaucracy. This is a genuine high-ranking official. A name most people who follow politics- and maybe some who don’t- would recognize. The Times simply wouldn’t do it for anything short of a major figure in Trump world.”
In another piece, Cillizza speculated it could be Mike Pence, John Kelley, Kellyanne Conway, or even Melania Trump.
We now know that it was [checking my notes for the name] Miles Taylor. A name nobody knew. A guy who was doing a job that nobody would ever refer to as a “senior administration official” unless the goal was to grossly inflate his importance.
Cillizza wasn’t the only MSM figure willingly duped by The New York Times’s strategy of inflating the anonymous writer’s importance. Someone suggested that the supposedly archaic word “lodestar” which had been used in the op-ed was a favorite word of Vice President Mike Pence because he had used it before.
That’s when the media burst into echo chamber mode with no regard for how tenuous the evidence was. Report after report focused on Pence’s love of the supposed fourteenth-century-relic of a word.
The Washington Post said, “Perhaps the one American politician who loves to say ‘lodestar’ the most is Vice President Pence.”
USA Today parroted the claim: “Lodestar: It’s one of Vice President Pence’s favorite words and now the buzzword from a controversial editorial published in the New York Times.”
Lawrence O’Donnell explained on his MSNBC show that Mike Pence is “the only person in the Trump administration who has repeatedly used the 14th century word lodestar.”
CBS News made a dramatic explainer video that tied Mike Pence to the word “lodestar.”
CNN ran multiple reports speculating on the identity of the writer and never failed to include how much Mike Pence loves to say “lodestar.”
Alleged “comedian” Jimmy Kimmel accused Mike Pence of being the writer on his show - presumably because he had learned the “lodestar” connection on the news, and then various media organizations reported on Kimmel’s accusation.
From there, it snowballed through the Twitterverse and became a popular hashtag.
The “lodestar” conspiracy theory was inescapable for days. That’s how the media echo chamber works. It didn’t matter how tenuous that one piece of “evidence” was. It didn’t matter that “lodestar” is a fairly common word. It didn’t matter that tons of common words date back to the 13th or 14th centuries. Pence must have done it!
But now we know the truth. It was a person whose name I have to check the spelling on each time I type it in this article. A person nobody suspected. And why would they? The media told us it was a senior administration official.
The New York Times committed a fraud against the country with this anonymous op-ed. They didn’t grant Miles Taylor anonymity because he was such a huge figure in “Trump world” as Cillizza had speculated. They granted Miles Taylor anonymity because the name “anonymous” carries more weight than the name “Miles Taylor.” “Anonymous” could be Mike Pence, Kellyanne Conway, Jeff Sessions, etc. just as the media thought it was. Miles Taylor can only be Miles Taylor—a CNN contributor and a name that could not possibly impress.
The media operates this way all the time. It just so happens that this story provided the rare opportunity to prove it.