It was the op-ed that shook the world — and now, the book that’s cashing in on it: Anonymous, a “senior official in the Trump administration,” is making headlines again as their book knocks Donald Trump Jr. off the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list.
In a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” post, Anonymous stated they would unveil their identity before the 2020 election.
“As far as anonymity is concerned, I will not keep my identity shrouded in secrecy forever,” Anonymous wrote. “I am not afraid to use my own name to express concern about the current occupant of the Oval Office. Donald Trump has not heard the last of me.”
Anonymous faced derision on Reddit — which isn’t totally out of the ordinary for the social media — for remaining, well, anonymous, as they have from many mainstream news organizations.
“Is this douchebag still quietly, oh so quietly, saving the republic? Spare us,” Jonathan Swan of Axios wrote on Twitter. “Don’t be an anonymous coward,” tweeted Soledad O’Brien, the host of Matter of Fact.
And the criticism goes on and on — The Guardian, The New York Times — but the fact is that the only reason this book is getting attention is because it is anonymous. We only care about it because we don’t know who wrote it.
Just look at the facts presented in the book. The New York Times — which published the original op-ed that started Anonymous’ anonymous career — wrote that “the picture it paints of the president and the White House is bleak, but not new.”
We aren’t learning much of anything from this book, but rather reinforcing what is already publicly known.
So to drive chatter and add some sense of mystic and excitement to this publication, the author must remain anonymous. Despite the public bravery and patriotism of Bill Taylor and Fiona Hill in testifying against this White House, if their name was on a book — no matter how important they are — it wouldn’t get anywhere near the traction that A Warning has received.
Look at Richard Spencer. (You’re probably wondering who that is — that alone proves the point.) President Trump recently fired Spencer as Navy secretary; on Wednesday evening, an op-ed by Spencer in The Washington Post tore Trump apart.
In the piece, Spencer wrote, “The president has very little understanding of what it means to be in the military, to fight ethically or to be governed by a uniform set of rules and practices.”
But who’s talking about this? No one.
Even though Spencer is important and established, no one seems to care about what Spencer is saying — and that’s because we already know all of it.
That’s not to discount what Spencer is telling us, or what Anonymous writes in their book. What they are conveying is incredibly important, and perhaps vital to the functioning of democracy. The American people deserve to know what those closest to Trump think about him and his performance in his job.
In that sense, remaining anonymous is a good thing. With elevated coverage and excitement over already-known facts, the book may make in-roads to those who don’t believe that “the White House is, quite simply, broken,” as Anonymous writes.
A Warning is not interesting for it’s content — we already know everything within the covers of that book. The only reason people care about the book is because of its author: Anonymous, the mystery that has enraptured everyone in the political world since their op-ed in the Times more than a year ago.
And once we know who this person is, no one will buy their book. Not because it is bad, and not because it isn’t important, but because it is nothing new.
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