'Anonymous' gets media frenzy without pesky scrutiny for new book

'Anonymous' gets media frenzy without pesky scrutiny for new book
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The media frenzy has already begun around a forthcoming book by a person known only as "Anonymous." Excerpts are slowly being leaked out to liberal opinion hosts like MSNBC's Rachel MaddowRachel Anne MaddowKrystal Ball accuses Democrats of having 'zero moral authority' amid impeachment inquiry Biden town hall on CNN finishes third in cable news race Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, Elijah Cummings's widow, will run for his House seat MORE in an effort to serve up the usual red meat to her audience.  

In this case, an old question must be asked: Where's the beef in this red meat? Because Anonymous is just that: An unknown entity. There are lots of perks to that. 

He or she also literally declared in the title of a 2018 New York Times op-ed: "I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration." 

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I’m sure there won't be any agenda here or twisting of narratives or facts whatsoever.

By remaining anonymous, the author’s credibility cannot be scrutinized. He or she can't be questioned on camera, for it would mean revealing the author’s true identity. Nor can we question the harrowing tales of President TrumpDonald John TrumpMost Americans break with Trump on Ukraine, but just 45 percent think he should be removed: poll Judge orders Democrats to give notice if they request Trump's NY tax returns Trump's doctor issues letter addressing 'speculation' about visit to Walter Reed MORE, and the clear and present danger he  supposedly presents to the nation, which neither Aaron Sorkin nor Oliver Stone could script any better. 

Using basic logic and presenting an argument that few broadcast journalists will broach, has anyone considered out loud why Anonymous chooses to stay anonymous? 

The most reasonable answer is easy to arrive at: Because he or she is a low-level administration employee who doesn't have any real access or interaction with the president or senior decisionmakers in the Trump administration.

And maybe, just maybe, this person is either passing along information he or she heard from their father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate. Or maybe he's another disgruntled former member of the Obama administration who has been around long enough to know that the usual suspects in the media – especially in some circles of cable news – are really like seagulls at the beach: Throw anything up in the air and they'll swallow it without first verifying what they're being fed. If it's bad and particularly sensational for Trump, it's good for ratings, good for clicks on social media and good for the bottom line. And if it's wrong, well, if the last two years are any indication, there won't be any consequences.

Again, if we don't know who this person is, how can their credibility be scrutinized? Have they told tales in the past? Do they have an agenda? What does their social-media feed say about their worldview?

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These kinds of background checks go out the window. No matter: He or she still gets a huge payday in the form of a book contract. And no details can be held up to questioning in the process. 

What a sweet deal. 

When you think about it, Anonymous is perfect for the current incarnation of the Fourth Estate. We live in a political media world that thrives on stories that usually read like this: 

"A White House official tells the New York Times ..."   

"A source close to the president tells the Washington Post ..." 

"Those familiar with the conversation the president had with ..." 

We also have precedent here in the form of Michael Wolff, who had the top-selling book of 2018, "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House." Much of the book featured almost-too-good-to-be-true claims against Trump that Wolff conceded weren't fact-checked. In one interview during his 2018 book tour, Wolff described himself as "barely a journalist,"

“I’m an observer. I investigate nothing," he added later in the interview.

"All I do is look and write what I see and what I hear, and my job – which has nothing to do with truth – is to take what I see and what I hear and write that in a way that readers can come [as close] as possible – as close as I came – to the experience of doing this."

"I want to be able to turn what I see into something that a reader says ‘Oh, I see that too,' " he added.

Oh. 

No matter: Wolff was booked dozens of times on huge platforms with almost no pushback on basic facts he got wrong in the book. 

The seagulls loved the meal, so why interrupt it?  

"A Warning" by Anonymous comes to bookstores on Nov. 19. Get ready for plenty of excerpts to be breathlessly read by network anchors and hosts and late-night comics. These excerpts will dominate the news cycle with almost no scrutiny or disclaimers. 

It's gossip presented as gospel. No doubt it will be followed by moans of "Why, oh why, does the American public distrust the media so much?"

Joe Concha is a media reporter for The Hill and co-host of "WOR Tonight with Joe Concha" weeknights on 710-WOR in New York. Follow him on Twitter @JoeConchaTV.