USA Today Op-Ed: The New York Times op-ed writer wants us to put our trust in a ‘shadow presidency’
USA Today Op-Ed: The New York Times op-ed writer wants us to put our trust in a 'shadow presidency'
Americans have a right to know what is happening within our government. When a senior White House official sounds an alarm, we should listen, even if The New York Times author believes anonymity is the only option.
It highlights the importance of the First Amendment protection of the free press and shield laws that protect anonymous sources as essential tools for news outlets to pursue investigative reporting the public relies on. Until the Trump campaign began its frequent attacks on journalists, corporate consolidation was the biggest threat to the free and independent news media.
The anonymous op-ed reportedly infuriated the president, whose Cabinet and staff are now consumed by proving loyalty, denying authorship, and finding the true identity of “anonymous.” The president has even asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Justice Department to uncover the author’s identity.
Those protections for anonymous sources and laws protecting whistleblowers are often the only reason the public learns about fraud or abuse, because the people with the evidence feel safe coming forward so we can all know the truth.
But we have a right to know if we have a president that is incapable of doing their job. It is we, the people, who have the ultimate power to protect our democracy, not anonymous.
Not a whistleblower, but a shadow presidency
The fact anonymous proudly proclaims there are “adults in the room” holding the line against the president’s worst impulses moves us from whistleblower to an unelected and unaccountable shadow presidency by committee.
Our democracy is under threat, and we have seen very little action by Congress to hold the president and his administration accountable. So far, the system is holding, but unelected, anonymous and unaccountable people running the government is unsustainable — even in the short term and no matter how well-intentioned. There are constitutional mechanisms to remove a president who is unable to fulfill the oath of office.
We call on the anonymous author and allies within the administration to stand up for our Constitution and step outside government, make a case to the American people — whom you work for — and let the people decide how best to put a check on this administration and demand action from Congress. Congress must do its constitutional duty to investigate the serious allegations made by anonymous by holding public hearings immediately.
Karen Hobert Flynn is president of Common Cause, a nonpartisan watchdog organization. You can follow her on Twitter: @KHobertFlynn.