An anonymous op-ed sounds like an oxymoron.
The editorial pages of the NY Times are sacred, receiving (and deserving) the deepest consideration. Clearly the decision to run an anonymous op-ed was made at the highest level and very carefully by very smart people.
The Times choice to do this had to include an understanding that doing so put the paper on the line as a full ‘player’ in today’s political and news games, a role newspapers typically try to avoid, and one that places more than one target on its back.
While the public spectacle of it all has faded in the glare of other news, reporters are scrambling to uncover the author – none working harder than the Times’ own journalists. That, by itself, may be another new game to carefully watch being played.
To an avid reader, it may appear the Times has decided that the time has come to actually enter the game, to better protect journalistic independence.
One has to assume the Times knows full well who the source is, but also why the source was interested and willing to run the obvious risks that are involved for her/himself and the Times.
Perhaps the source was/is on the verge of quitting anyway, for good reasons, and wanted to amplify the significance of that action by creating suspense.
That raises the questions of whether the source is, at the moment, lying about not being the source to let the tension continue to build up. That could make the whole thing boomerang because the source would inevitably lose a lot of credibility.
The next question in the guessing game is what is meant by a ‘senior’ WH/Administration official. That could make the game much more complicated particularly if the source is a barely-known person.
The whole game is full of unknowns and the unknowable.
And it is clear that barrels full of Trump officials are scratching their heads and covering their butts, while Trump rages about the unfairness of it all.
It might transpire that the source will never be revealed, or we may hold out hope that someday, possibly after Trump himself is old news, the author will reveal him or herself. Without insight into the identity or even importance of the source of the op-ed, we are all free to read our own meanings in it. Some reasonable people see it as evidence that the Times has ‘lost it.’ Others, perhaps less reasonable, lump it in as one more piece of “fake news” from a “failing” pillar of old media. A few, either delusional or visionary, believe the Times is way out ahead of us mere mortal observers, throwing down a gauntlet in defense of the role of the press in holding elected officials accountable.
The waiting is exciting!