NYT: Why?!?

My first reaction to the article “Rosenstein Raised Idea of Recording Talks With Trump” (New York Times, front page, Sept. 22) mirrored that of reader Kelly Hughes (“News and Consequences: The Rod Rosenstein Story.” Letter, Sept. 24). Why would the NYT publish an anonymously sourced article on a sensitive but untimely topic, with potential disastrous consequences for the country?

Why indeed? Even if it were true that Mr. Rosenstein considered taping Mr. Trump or catalyzing efforts towards the 25th Amendment, there is no indication he acted on either, or even that he considers invoking the 25th Amendment warranted.

After multiple reads, I still dislike the quality of the article, its timing, and its potential chain-reaction consequences (on the Mueller investigation and the independence of the Department of Justice). But the bigger point is that the NYT absolutely has the right to publish what it considers informative: Isn’t that the true essence of a free press? And isn’t a free press foundational for democracy?

Yes, the rampant increase in anonymous leaks is concerning, as those leaks both reflect a dysfunctional government and eventually erode public trust on the press.

But we face bigger problems: No fit US president would act in a way to prompt a responsible government officer to even consider actions such as those attributed to Mr. Rosenstein. No fit US president would interfere with an independent probe on his administration. No fit US president would cause derisory laughter at the United Nations. And no fit Congress would support an unfit president. That this is not self-evident to our leaders is a real concern.

Our democracy and political system were never perfect, but still we served as aspirational reference for a world in dire need of one. We must become that reference once more. Mr. Rosenstein does not come across as either hero or villain. He comes across as a government officer struggling—as does the free press—to be a part of the solution. Misjudgments included.

Today, National Voter Registration Day, all Americans can choose to be an unambiguous part of the solution. If you are not yet registered, please do register to vote. Get informed on upcoming candidates and measures. And, coming November 2018, please vote for a return to normalcy.

— Antonio Baptista

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