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The New York Times published an op-ed on Wednesday from a “senior” administration official that detailed the right-wing resistances within the administration, hoping to protect the country from some of President Donald Trump‘s worst impulses.
Naturally, Twitter wanted to know who might be behind such an explosive story and went to work scouring the op-ed for answers.
A couple key phrases popped out to people, but none more than the word “Lodestar,” a phrase that people immediately felt pointed to Vice President Mike Pence.
The @nytimes just published an anonymous op-ed from a "senior administration official." I'd like to posit a guess as to who wrote it. Getting my @ashleyfeinberg on began with a single word that jumped out at me... https://t.co/ajS2JI8WH2— Dan downLODESTAR Bloom (@danbl00m) September 5, 2018
The word is "LODESTAR." Note that it comes in the same paragraph praising John McCain. That would rule out flame-throwers like Stephen Miller and Dan Scavino and suggest someone with Senate ties. This reveal is not going to take long. pic.twitter.com/NwnUtvFlko— Dan downLODESTAR Bloom (@danbl00m) September 5, 2018
Others online spotted it soon after, and it immediately started to posit that Pence was behind it, with the hashtags #LodestarGate and #VeepThroat, a la the psuedonymous Deep Throat, who brought down the Richard Nixon administration.
If Pence really did write that New York Times op-ed, get ready...#VeepThroat will be the one who starts the 25th Amendment process.— Holly Figueroa O'Reilly (@AynRandPaulRyan) September 6, 2018
Let's review all of the reasons that Trump is unfit...make it easier for @VP to make up his mind. #25thAmendmentNowhttps://t.co/VKBj696uWm
Still others, though, found other phrases, like “first principles” to be indicative of a number of officials.
“First principles” = Mattis— #MIDTERMS! (@MichaelRCaputo) September 6, 2018
“Off the rails” = Kelly
“Lodestar” = Pence
Her ghostwriter is clever. Don’t be fooled.
While speculation ran rampant, administration officials began denying it. Pence’s office issued a forceful statement, saying the vice president puts his name on opinions.
The Vice President puts his name on his Op-Eds. The @nytimes should be ashamed and so should the person who wrote the false, illogical, and gutless op-ed. Our office is above such amateur acts.— Jarrod Agen (@VPComDir) September 6, 2018
Which led to its own joke.
“I put my name on my Op-Eds. Don’t I, Mother? Mother? MOTHER!” pic.twitter.com/lQ2O3PbWgw— Captain Id (@CaptId) September 6, 2018
As the story has grown, numerous people have come out to deny it, including Pence.
Also add to the list:— Veronica Stracqualursi (@VeronicaStrac) September 6, 2018
Attorney General Jeff Sessions
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin
Ambassador Nikki Haley
A top White House official tells @jeffzeleny these denials are being printed out and delivered to the president as they come in.
This morning, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders put a bit of a fork in it, saying that any inquiries about the matter should go to the New York Times from now on.
For those of you asking for the identity of the anonymous coward: pic.twitter.com/RpWYPHa6To— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) September 6, 2018
Mark Felt, the original Deep Throat, routinely denied he was a source for the Washington Post, so do take all these denials with a grain of salt.
Because someone had to write it.
David Covucci is the Layer 8 editor at the Daily Dot, covering the intersection of politics and the web. His work has appeared in Vice, the Huffington Post, Jezebel, Gothamist, and other publications. He is particularly interested in hearing any tips you have. Reach out at [email protected]